Contingency and responsibility in confucian political theory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In this article I investigate the Confucian sense of responsibility from the framework of “moral economy,” understood as a causal relationship between one’s virtue and non-moral goods including political position/success, and “contingency,” the failure of moral economy, and argue that early Confucians’ astute understanding of the contingent nature of the political world enabled them to subscribe to the non-causal sense of responsibility. Contrary to the common argument that Heaven was invoked by the Confucians in order to shield themselves from responsibility for their political failures, I argue that they imposed a more expanded sense of responsibility both on them and on the rulers, largely preoccupied with realpolitik. In their effort to restore moral economy between the ruler’s virtue and his political position in particular, I show Confucians engaged in what I call reverse moral economy, at the heart of which was to constrain the ruler’s arbitrary use of political power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-636
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophy and Social Criticism
Volume44
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jul 1

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political theory
sense of responsibility
contingency
responsibility
economy
political power
Responsibility
Moral Economy
Contingency
Political Theory
Confucian
Ruler

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

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Contingency and responsibility in confucian political theory. / Kim, Sungmoon.

In: Philosophy and Social Criticism, Vol. 44, No. 6, 01.07.2018, p. 615-636.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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