Confucianism, Moral Equality, and Human Rights: A Mencian Perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper attempts to show the compatibility between Confucianism and human rights, first by revisiting the moral philosophy of Mencius, a key founder of the Confucian tradition, then by reconstructing the Mencian-Confucian idea of human rights from the perspective of his moral philosophy. One of my central claims is that not only did Mencius acknowledge core human rights-socioeconomic as well as civil-political-justified by his foundational faith in universal moral equality and human dignity, but he further understood the right to subsistence as an essential part of Confucian-constitutional rights. Contrary to the widely received notion that in Mencian-Confucianism the right to subsistence has an overriding value vis-a-vis civil-political rights, I argue that Mencius (and Confucians in general for that matter) never stipulated such a lexical ranking among rights. I conclude by discussing how the type of Confucian moral reasoning that Mencius employs in justifying the moral value of human rights can be re-appropriated to produce Confucian rights suitable for today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-185
Number of pages37
JournalAmerican Journal of Economics and Sociology
Volume74
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1

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Confucianism
equality
human rights
moral philosophy
human dignity
political right
faith
ranking
Equality
Human rights
Values
Moral philosophy
Subsistence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics

Cite this

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Confucianism, Moral Equality, and Human Rights : A Mencian Perspective. / Kim, Sungmoon.

In: American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 74, No. 1, 01.01.2015, p. 149-185.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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