Service, reciprocity, and remedy: From Confucian meritocracy to Confucian democracy

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One of the most notable features in recent Confucian political theory is the advocacy of political meritocracy. Though Confucian meritocrats’ controversial institutional design has been subject to critical scrutiny, less attention has been paid to their underlying normative claims. This paper aims to investigate the two justificatory conditions of Confucian political meritocracy—the service condition and the reciprocity condition—in light of classical Confucianism and with special attention to moral disagreement. Finding the normative argument for Confucian political meritocracy both incomplete (in light of classical Confucianism) and implausible (under the circumstances of moral disagreement), it proposes Confucian constitutional democracy as an alternative that can meet the three conditions of the good Confucian polity—service, reciprocity, and remedy—by reconceiving the people's well-being in terms of their basic rights, as well as by promoting constitutional dialogue among the three branches of the government.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-266
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Theory
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Apr

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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