Pragmatic confucian democracy: Rethinking the value of democracy in East Asia

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In contemporary Confucian political theory, there is surprisingly little effort among the theorists to illuminate the value of democracy. When they do on rare occasions, their focus is largely on democracy's instrumental contribution to Confucian goods. In this paper, I argue that, given democracy's dual aspects as a political system and as a way of life, it has both instrumental and intrinsic values, and insomuch as it is a kind of democracy, Confucian democracy, too, ought to possess both values. Central to my argument is that, once introduced and justified instrumentally as a political system, democracy in a Confucian society attains its noninstrumental value as it becomes consolidated as a democratic-Confucian way of life inwhich democratic institutions, rights, and practices are socially mediated by and negotiated with Confucian values, civilities, and moral sentiments. I present my overarching normative framework in terms of pragmatic Confucian democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-249
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by the Southern Political Science Association. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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