Asian Philosophy 11 (2):61 – 71 (2001)
|Abstract||It is often supposed that Confucianism is opposed to the idea of equality insofar as the key ideals to which it is committed, such as meritocracy and li , are incompatible with equality. Sympathetic commentators typically defend Confucianism by saying that (a) the Confucian person is not a free-standing individual but a social being embedded in a social structure with different and unequal roles, and (b) social inequality has to be traded in for other values. This paper argues that in advocating meritocracy, Confucianism does not abandon the idea of equality. Indeed, invoking Aristotle's account of equality in the Nicomachean Ethics , it can be argued that the unequal distribution of rights and benefits reflects one aspect of equality, namely the vertical aspect, or the unequal treatment of unequals.|
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