Epistemic Elitism, Paternalism, and Confucian Democracy

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5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper brings a fresh, epistemic perspective to bear on prominent Confucian philosophers’ arguments for (1) a hybrid Deweyan-Confucian democracy, or (2) for an illiberal democracy with “Confucian characteristics.” Reconstructing principles for epistemic elitism and paternalism from the pre-Qin 秦 Confucian thought that inspires these advocates for Confucian democracy, it finds two major problems with their proposals. For those who abandon or modify this epistemic elitism and paternalism in accordance with (1), the result is a philosophical syncretism that is either unconvincingly Confucian or unconvincingly Deweyan. For those who retain it in accordance with (2), the result is a democratic proposal that will lack legitimacy in increasingly pluralistic East Asian societies. In the end, there is a need for thinking that appropriately synthesizes Eastern and Western philosophies in a politically changing East Asia, but it would benefit from being less “Confucian.”

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-54
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


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