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Confucius, Rawls, and the Sense of Justice

Erin Cline

Publication Year: 2012

This book compares the role of a sense of justice in the ethical and political thought of Confucius and John Rawls. Erin Cline demonstrates that the Analects (the most influential record of Confucius' thought) and Rawls's work intersect in an emphasis on the importance of developing a sense of justice. Despite deep and important differences between the two accounts, this intersection is a source of significant philosophical agreement.The study does not simply compare and contrast two views by examining their similarities and differences; it also offers a larger argument concerning the reasons why comparative work is worthwhile, the distinctive challenges comparative studies face, and how comparative work can accomplish distinctive and significant ends.Not only can a comparative study of the capacity for a sense of justice in Confucius and Rawls help us better understand each of their views, but it also can help us to see new ways in which to apply their insights, especially with respect to the contemporary relevance of their accounts.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-8


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pp. ix-10

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pp. xi-xiii

I owe debts of gratitude to many who helped in various ways and at different stages of this project. I thank P. J. Ivanhoe for encouraging me to write a new book that refl ected my evolving ideas about justice and Confucianism instead of simply revising my previous work on this topic, for...

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pp. 1-27

As several scholars of Confucianism have noted, remarkable differences exist between the structure and content of the work of modern liberal philosophers like John Rawls, who concern themselves primarily with discussions of justice, equality, and freedom, and the work of classical Confucian...

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Chapter 1. Methods in Comparative Work

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pp. 28-73

Although the central argument of this book aims to help readers to more fully understand and appreciate certain aspects of Rawls’s and Kongzi’s thought, it also aims to show why comparative studies are sometimes helpful. In the Introduction I discussed the reasons why a comparative study of...

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Chapter 2. The Sense of Justice in Rawls

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pp. 74-118

In recent years there has been a remarkable proliferation of monographs and introductory texts on Rawls’s work, exploring his views on wideranging topics, as well as his life and the legacy of his work.2 New collections of essays on Rawls’s work have also appeared, as well as previously...

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Chapter 3. The Sense of Justice in the Analects

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pp. 119-167

As we turn to the Analects, we return to the questions raised in the Introduction to this book: Without a term for “justice,” how does the text of the Analects reveal an appreciation for a sense of justice? What features, in particular, help to show that it is appropriate to call it a sense of justice?...

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Chapter 4. Two Senses of Justice

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pp. 168-210

In Chapter 3 I argued that the Analects provides an account of a sense of justice, which is one of many capacities individuals must cultivate in order to live in accordance with the Way. Social justice and fair distribution are among the central concerns of Rawls’s work as well, and as we...

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Chapter 5. The Contemporary Relevanceof a Sense of Justice

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pp. 211-264

One of the main goals of this work has been to uncover the sense of justice in the Analects and to argue that an understanding of a sense of justice deepens our understanding of the Analects as a whole. This chapter aims to show that this ancient idea is important for us today as well and that...

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pp. 265-272

One of the original overarching aims of this study was to demonstrate some of the ways in which comparative work can be worthwhile. I have argued that a comparative study of the capacity for a sense of justice in Kongzi and Rawls helps us not only to understand each of their views and the nature of...


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pp. 273-333


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pp. 335-349


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pp. 351-354

E-ISBN-13: 9780823250578
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823245086
Print-ISBN-10: 082324508X

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: Text