Confucius, Rawls, and the Sense of Justice

Confucius, Rawls, and the Sense of Justice

Erin M. Cline
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Confucius, Rawls, and the Sense of Justice
    Book Description:

    This book compares the role of a sense of justice in the ethical and political thought of Confucius and John Rawls. Erin Cline demonstrates that the Analects (the most influential record of Confucius' thought) and Rawls's work intersect in an emphasis on the importance of developing a sense of justice. Despite deep and important differences between the two accounts, this intersection is a source of significant philosophical agreement. The study does not simply compare and contrast two views by examining their similarities and differences; it also offers a larger argument concerning the reasons why comparative work is worthwhile, the distinctive challenges comparative studies face, and how comparative work can accomplish distinctive and significant ends. Not only can a comparative study of the capacity for a sense of justice in Confucius and Rawls help us better understand each of their views, but it also can help us to see new ways in which to apply their insights, especially with respect to the contemporary relevance of their accounts.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5057-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-27)

    As several scholars of Confucianism have noted, remarkable differences exist between the structure and content of the work of modern liberal philosophers like John Rawls, who concern themselves primarily with discussions of justice, equality, and freedom, and the work of classical Confucian philosophers, who focus mainly on self-cultivation and virtues that are nurtured, at least initially, largely in the context of the family. An awareness of these differences might lead one to doubt that there is any value in trying to compare these views. What might philosophers who devote enormous time to discussions of self-cultivation and the family have in...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Methods in Comparative Work
    (pp. 28-73)

    Although the central argument of this book aims to help readers to more fully understand and appreciate certain aspects of Rawls’s and Kongzi’s thought, it also aims to show why comparative studies are sometimes helpful. In the Introduction I discussed the reasons why a comparative study of Rawlsian and Confucian understandings of a sense of justice is worthwhile. But although the question of why comparative studies are worthwhile varies considerably depending upon what one is comparing, there are also some more general reasons for doing comparative work. In the first part of this chapter, I take up this more general...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The Sense of Justice in Rawls
    (pp. 74-118)

    In recent years there has been a remarkable proliferation of monographs and introductory texts on Rawls’s work, exploring his views on wide-ranging topics, as well as his life and the legacy of his work.² New collections of essays on Rawls’s work have also appeared, as well as previously unpublished work by Rawls such as hisLectures on the History of Political Philosophy.³ Some of these works even explore the evolution of Rawls’s thought in areas that he never published in, such asA Brief Inquiry into the Meaning of Sin and Faith, which includes Rawls’s 1942 Princeton senior thesis on...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The Sense of Justice in the Analects
    (pp. 119-167)

    As we turn to theAnalects, we return to the questions raised in the Introduction to this book: Without a term for “justice,” how does the text of theAnalectsreveal an appreciation for a sense of justice? What features, in particular, help to show that it is appropriate to call it a sense of justice? This chapter is devoted to showing how an appreciation for a sense of justice is expressed in theAnalects. In the first section, I argue that the primary concern of theAnalectsis to advocate the cultivation of a certain set of virtues in...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Two Senses of Justice
    (pp. 168-210)

    One of the distinctive features of theDaodejing道德經 is its conception of what it means for rulers to act in accordance with the Way, and how human societies should be arranged in order to meet the needs of the people. Although the authors of theDaodejingand theAnalectsarticulate very different conceptions of the ideal society, both texts address the problems of excess and deficiency in human societies. They also share the view that rulers play a critical role in correcting these and other problems relating to establishing justice. And despite the deep and important differences between their...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The Contemporary Relevance of a Sense of Justice
    (pp. 211-264)

    One of the main goals of this work has been to uncover the sense of justice in theAnalectsand to argue that an understanding of a sense of justice deepens our understanding of theAnalectsas a whole. This chapter aims to show that this ancient idea is important for us today as well and that the different views of a sense of justice found in theAnalectsand in Rawls help to show why. InVirtue Ethics and Consequentialism in Early Chinese Philosophy, Bryan W. Van Norden draws upon Lee Yearley’s work to point out that if we...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 265-272)

    One of the original overarching aims of this study was to demonstrate some of the ways in which comparative work can be worthwhile. I have argued that a comparative study of the capacity for a sense of justice in Kongzi and Rawls helps us not only to understand each of their views and the nature of a sense of justice but also helps us to see new ways of applying and further developing Confucian and Rawlsian insights. This approach offers an alternative to those approaches that see comparative philosophy simply as an opportunity to compare and contrast two views without...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 273-334)
    (pp. 335-350)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 351-354)