Kongzi, Rawls, and the sense of justice in the Analects.




Cline, Erin May.

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This dissertation is a comparative study of the philosophy of John Rawls and the Confucian Analects regarding the idea of a sense of justice. The first aim of this work is to correct a view that has been advanced by several scholars of Chinese and comparative philosophy, namely, that the absence of terms such as "justice" in classical Chinese indicates that classical Chinese texts are not concerned with questions of justice, and that classical Confucian philosophers were not interested in the ideas that are the focus of modern Western political philosophy. Against these claims, I argue that there are deep and important areas of agreement between the understanding of a sense of justice in the Analects and John Rawls's account of a sense of justice. I show that on both views, a sense of justice is cultivated first within the context of parent-child relationships and then within communities, finally emerging as a fully developed moral sense that informs the capacity to feel and act in certain ways toward other members of society. The second aim of this study is to show how comparative work can help us to understand more fully and accurately the features of two or more views. I argue that studying the idea of a sense of justice in the Analects alongside a Rawlsian sense of justice highlights some important dimensions of Rawls's work that have been neglected, including the role he assigns to the family and the community in his account of how citizens cultivate a sense of justice. I also argue that Rawls's discussions of moral psychology and the development of a sense of justice provide readers with a model for understanding the role that moral capacities can play in political philosophy. Rawls's account helps readers to see how an appreciation for justice can be expressed in a text like the Analects, even though there is not a fully developed theory of justice or a single term that consistently designates "justice."


Includes bibliographical references (p. 329-338).


Justice (Philosophy)., Philosophy, Confucian., Confucianism and law., Political science -- philosophy., Ethics, Comparative.