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Public Reason Confucianism


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 (ISBN-13: 9781316592755)

Recent proposals concerning Confucian meritocratic perfectionism have justified Confucian perfectionism in terms of political meritocracy. In contrast, 'Confucian democratic perfectionism' is a form of comprehensive Confucian perfectionism that can accommodate a plurality of values in civil society. It is also fully compatible with core values of democracy such as popular sovereignty, political equality, and the right to political participation. Sungmoon Kim presents 'public reason Confucianism' as the most attractive option for contemporary East Asian societies that are historically and culturally Confucian. Public reason Confucianism is a particular style of Confucian democratic perfectionism in which comprehensive Confucianism is connected with perfectionism via a distinctive form of public reason. It calls for an active role for the democratic state in promoting a Confucian conception of the good life, at the heart of which are such core Confucian values as filial piety and ritual propriety.

• Reconciles public reason with perfectionism • Proposes a new mode of constitutionalism in East Asia combining democratic citizenship with Confucian values • Analytical political philosophy is empirically grounded


Introduction; Part I. Perfectionism: 1. Confucian democratic perfectionism; 2. Public reason Confucianism - a construction; Part II. Constitutionalism: 3. Public reason Confucian constitutionalism; 4. Public equality and democratic pluralism; Part III. Civic Virtue: 5. Between moral virtue and civic virtue; 6. The right to political participation; Conclusion.


'Perhaps the greatest challenge facing political theory across the globe in the twenty-first century is whether it is possible to combine what is best in western liberal democratic thought with what is best in non-western traditions, especially the Confucianism that has shaped the values of more than a quarter of the world's people. No one is confronting this challenge more thoughtfully, creatively, and insightfully than Sungmoon Kim in Public Reason Confucianism.' Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania

'Sungmoon Kim combines a sophisticated command of contemporary political philosophy, especially as it pertains to moral disagreement in pluralistic democratic societies, with deep appreciation for Confucianism as a complex and internally diverse philosophical tradition and a set of practices and institutions that have often been at odds with the most appealing interpretations of the philosophical tradition. Everyone concerned with the debate about how to combine these traditions will need to deal with Kim's vigorously argued blend of Confucian values such as filial piety and democratic values such as political equality, popular sovereignty, and the right to political participation.' David B. Wong, Susan Fox Beischer and George D. Beischer Professor of Philosophy, Duke University

'Is there an indigenous political philosophy that can justify and guide the development of constitutional democracy in East Asian societies such as Korea and Taiwan? This book provides a powerful answer …' Albert H. Y. Chen, Chan Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Hong Kong

'Sungmoon Kim brilliantly demonstrates the practical possibilities stemming from a reconciliation of Confucianism with the idea of public reason. In so doing, he shows how Confucian political systems can embrace pluralism and democracy to good effect. Public Reason Confucianism is a landmark contribution to the political theory of East Asia.' John Dryzek, University of Canberra

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