Confucian Democracy in East Asia explores a mode of democracy that is culturally relevant and socially practicable in the contemporary context of historically Confucian East Asian societies. It argues that a Western-style liberal democracy, predicated on liberal individualism, is not suitable for East Asians who, despite their pluralist values, are still broadly saturated with Confucian habits and mores.
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'A remarkable study that raises the question: are Asian societies essentially autocratic or are they compatible with modern democracy? If the latter, how can their symbiosis be best understood? Rejecting the incompatibility thesis, the author calls into question presumed Asian preferences for thick communitarianism (neglectful of individual liberty and social pluralism) and public meritocracy (neglectful of popular accountability). Proceeding in a clear, analytical fashion, Kim defends the idea of a Confucian civil democracy whose institutions, supported by Confucian habits and mores, can provide a bulwark for public freedom, democratic citizenship, and good governance. This is an admirable vision designed to call forth the better angels of democracy.' Fred Dallmayr, University of Notre Dame and author of Dialogue among Civilizations
'Confucianism is neither ready-made for democracy nor inalterably opposed to it. As Sungmoon Kim shows in this important book, however, a Confucianism worth defending in the complex, multicultural East Asia of today both can and must incorporate a robust form of democracy. Kim deploys a wealth of careful arguments that draw from classical Confucianism, a wide range of Western political theorists, and the distinctive political culture of modern Korea. The result is a rich and provocative work that successfully bridges theory and practice. Anyone interested in the future possibilities for democracy and for Confucianism - whether conjoined or not - will have to take this book seriously.' Stephen C. Angle, Wesleyan University
'Sungmoon Kim's Confucian Democracy in East Asia is a deep, subtle, and beautifully written examination of two contested concepts, democracy and Confucianism. Kim's aim is to articulate a philosophically credible and politically realistic vision of what Confucian democracy can be in twenty-first-century East Asia. Besides succeeding at that task, Kim reminds us that there are many unexplored possibilities for aligning distinctive identity-conferring beliefs with democratic and liberal political ideals. A must-read for comparative philosophers and political theorists.' Owen Flanagan, Duke University
This book explores a mode of democracy that is culturally relevant and socially practicable in the contemporary pluralistic context of historically Confucian East Asian societies, by critically engaging with the two most dominant theories of Confucian democracy - Confucian communitarianism and meritocratic elitism. The book constructs a mode of public reason (and reasoning) that is morally palatable to East Asians who are still saturated in Confucian customs by reappropriating Confucian familialism and using this perspective to theorize on Confucian democratic welfarism and political meritocracy. It then applies the theory of Confucian democracy to South Korea, arguably the most Confucianized society in East Asia, and examines the theory's practicality in Korea's increasingly individualized, pluralized, and multicultural society by looking at cases of freedom of expression, freedom of association, insult law, and immigration policy.
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