A Pluralist Reconstruction of Confucian Democracy

Sungmoon Kim
City University of Hong Kong
In this paper, I attempt to revamp Confucian democracy, which is originally presented as the communitarian corrective and cultural alternative to Western liberal democracy, into a robust democratic political theory and practice that is plausible in the societal context of pluralism. In order to do so, I first investigate the core tenets of value pluralism with reference to William Galston’s political theory, which gives full attention to the intrinsic value of diversity and human plurality particularly in the modern democratic context. I then construct a political theory of Confucian pluralist democracy by critically engaging with two dominant versions of Confucian democracy—Confucian communitarian democracy and Confucian meritocratic democracy. My key argument is threefold: (1) the unity in Confucian democracy should be interpreted not as moral unity but as constitutional unity; (2) Confucian virtues should be differentiated (or pluralized) between moral virtues and civic virtues; (3) in Confucian democracy minorities have the constitutional right to contest public norms in civil society
Keywords Civic virtue  Communitarianism  Confucian democracy  Meritocracy  Pluralism
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DOI 10.1007/s11712-012-9289-7
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