Equality and inequality in Confucianism
Date of Issue2012
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
This essay studies equality and inequality in Confucianism. By studying Confucius, Mencius, Xunzi, and other classic thinkers, I argue that Confucian equality is manifested in two forms. Numerical equality is founded in the Mencian belief that every person is born with the same moral potential and the Xunzian notion that all people have the same xing and the same potential for moral cultivation. It is also manifested in the form of role-based equality. Proportional equality, however, is the main notion of equality in Confucian philosophy. Proportional equality is realized in moral, economic, and political realms. On the basis of these notions of Confucian equality, I propose two Confucian political principles for contemporary society. The first is the inclusive principle of general election by citizenry, and the second is the exclusive principle of qualification for public offices.
© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication by Dao, Springer Science+Business Media B.V. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11712-012-9283-0].