The Center for Comparative Philosophy Invited Workshop Series
Democratic Equality or Confucian Hierarchy?
Time: May 19th (Friday) 12:00-14:00*
Location: West Duke 204
Commentator: Dr. Alex Oprea
* Lunch is provided!
Abstract: In contemporary Western political philosophy, the term “hierarchy” often carries a negative connotation while “equality” carries a positive one. Political theorists who subscribe to some sort of egalitarianism think that social hierarchy is morally problematic and should be avoided as much as possible, while social equality is praiseworthy and any deviation from it should be justified. In this talk, I will clarify the concepts of social equality and social hierarchy and argue that hierarchy and equality per se are neither problematic nor praiseworthy. They are good or bad, right or wrong, only insofar as they are structured and operated in ways that affect people’s wellbeing and virtue as well as express certain kinds of ethical attitudes and relationships defined independently of the so-called value or principle of equality or hierarchy. The key to a healthy relationship, equal or hierarchical, is the participants’ virtue. Without virtue, no relationship can secure what is right and good for the participants.
About the Speakers: The main speaker, Joseph Chan, is a professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, The University of Hong Kong. He teaches political theory and researches in the areas of Confucian political philosophy, contemporary liberalism and perfectionism, human rights, and civil society. He is the author of Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times (Princeton, 2014), and co-editor (with Doh Shin and Melissa Williams) of East Asian Perspectives on Political Legitimacy: Bridging the Empirical-Normative Divide (Cambridge, 2016).
The commentator of the workshop, Alex Oprea, is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at UNC.