Public reason as a political ideal aims to reconcile reasonable disagreement; however, is public reason itself the object of reasonable disagreement? Jonathan Quong, David Estlund, Andrew Lister, and some other philosophers maintain that public reason is beyond reasonable disagreement. I argue this view is untenable. In addition, I consider briefly whether or not two main versions of the public reason principle, namely, the consensus version and the convergence version, need to satisfy their own requirements. My discussion has several important implications (...) for the debate on public reason. (shrink)
Confucian scholars should satisfy two conditions insofar as they think their theories enable Confucianism to make contributions to liberal politics and social policy. The liberal accommodation condition stipulates that the theory in question should accommodate as many reasonable conceptions of the good and religious doctrines as possible while the intelligibility condition stipulates that the theory must have a recognizable Confucian character. By and large, Joseph Chan’s Confucian perfectionism is able to satisfy the above two conditions. However, contrary to Chan and (...) many other Confucian scholars, I argue that any active promotion of Confucianism will violate the liberal accommodation condition. I propose the “wide view of moderate perfectionism,” which enables Confucianism to shed light on a wide range of political and social issues without promoting Confucianism actively. Thus, I present a new approach to the long-standing question of how Confucianism may improve political and social development in a liberal society. (shrink)
(Winner of The Res Publica Essay Prize) This article defends a moderate version of state perfectionism by using Gerald Gaus’s argument for liberal neutrality as a starting point of discussion. Many liberal neutralists reject perfectionism on the grounds of respect for persons, but Gaus has explained more clearly than most neutralists how respect for persons justifies neutrality. Against neutralists, I first argue that the state may promote the good life by appealing to what can be called “the qualified judgments about (...) the good life,” which have not been considered by liberal perfectionists including Joseph Chan and Steven Wall. Then I clear up several possible misunderstandings of these judgments, and argue that: (a) moderate perfectionism does not rely on controversial rankings of values and is committed to promoting different valuable ways of life by pluralistic promotion; and (b) moderate perfectionism requires only an indirect form of coercion in using tax money to support certain moderate perfectionist measures, which is justifiable on the grounds of citizens’ welfare. Thus, I maintain that moderate perfectionism does not disrespect citizens, and is not necessarily unfair to any particular group of people. It is, in fact, plausible and morally important. The defence of moderate perfectionism has practical implications for the state’s policies regarding art development, drug abuse, public education, and so on. (shrink)
In Public Reason Confucianism, Sungmoon Kim presents an important Confucian political theory that seeks to combine a specific conception of Confucianism and the ideal of public reason. My article examines this theory and identifies some of the theoretical complications with Rawlsian public reason.
Much of contemporary political philosophy revolves around debates over perfectionism, which is the view that the state may, or should, promote valuable conceptions of the good life and discourage conceptions that are worthless or bad. Collis Tahzib has recently proposed a unique theory of perfectionism. I examine two central aspects of his theory: the amalgamation of public reason and perfectionism, and the employment of the Rawlsian lexical priority. I argue that Tahzib’s idea of perfectionist public reason has certain serious problems. (...) Additionally, Tahzib, like many other perfectionists, has neglected that many excellences are at once personal and civic. I sketch a perfectionist account of civic virtue, with the hope of opening up space for defending and justifying perfectionism. (shrink)
Popular sovereignty is one of the most widespread but poorly understood notions in modern politics. Exalted as the highest principle of democratic legitimacy, the idea of popular sovereignty has been given various but broadly similar formulations. . . .
What role, if any, should Confucianism play in the politics of our time? In some of my previous works, I claimed that modern liberal states are not permitted to promote Confucian values on the basis of their intrinsic merits. Yet, drawing insights from Joseph Chan’s moderate state perfectionism and John Rawls’s wide view of public political culture, I proposed the “wide view of moderate perfectionism.” According to this view, in public political discussion, citizens should be allowed to deliberate whether and (...) how Confucianism, among other reasonable moral doctrines, can make positive contributions to their social and political thinking and public policymaking, provided that certain conditions are met. This view has been criticized by some scholars, in particular Zhuoyao Li. Li argues that the practice of the wide view of moderate perfectionism would inevitably harm civility. In this article, I clarify and develop the wide view and respond to Li’s criticisms. (shrink)
In contemporary Anglo-American political philosophy, perfectionism is widely understood as the idea that the state may, or should, promote valuable conceptions of the good life and discourage conceptions that are worthless or bad. As such, debates over perfectionism occupy a central place in contemporary political philosophy because political philosophers are deeply concerned about whether or not a liberal state is permitted to promote any particular ethical or religious doctrine or impose it on its citizens. -/- In general, contemporary perfectionists do (...) not argue for the state’s pursuit of any religious doctrine. They only maintain that the state is permitted to make a wide range of public policies with the aim of promoting the good life. These policies, commonly found in liberal democratic societies, may include subsidizing museums and art galleries, preserving cultural heritage, setting up public libraries and providing free access to reading materials, encouraging athletic excellence, conserving nature and biodiversity, and educating citizens about the harm of recreational drugs. Nevertheless, perfectionism remains controversial among philosophers and political scientists. -/- It might be beneficial to take a sympathetic view of perfectionism and consider how perfectionists might defend their position against some of the common objections. These objections mainly include: (a) that the state does not possess legitimate authority to make decisions about the good life and seek to promote it; (b) that perfectionist policies are generally illiberal and paternalistic; and (c) that conceptions of the good life are objects of reasonable disagreement and hence cannot legitimately be promoted by the state. In addition, the nature and importance of perfectionist policies and politics will be discussed. (shrink)