Is Confucianism Beneath or Beyond Ethics and Politics?

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Bin Song


This article reviews Shaun O’Dwyer’s latest book, Confucianism’s Prospects: A Reassessment (SUNY, 2019). By critiquing philosophical theories of “Confucian democracy” and their shared sociological assumption that Confucianism still functions as a cultural matrix for East Asian societies, O’Dwyer argues that visions on the future of Confucianism alternative to what the currently fixed institutional infrastructure of liberal democracy entails are flawed. This is mainly because if unconstrained by the infrastructure, the hardwired paternalism and elitism of Confucian ethics would necessarily impose morally taxing burdens upon a de facto pluralistic society. This article assesses O’Dwyer’s counterarguments to “Confucian democracy,” and proposes a different approach to estimate the prospects of Confucianism in the contemporary world.

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How to Cite
Song, B. (2020). Is Confucianism Beneath or Beyond Ethics and Politics?. Journal of World Philosophies, 5(2), 200–205. Retrieved from
Book Reviews
Author Biography

Bin Song, Washington College

Bin Song is an assistant professor of philosophy and religion at Washington College, U.S. His research focuses upon Asian and comparative philosophy, religion, and theology, particularly Confucianism (Ruism). His most recent publications include: “Robert C. Neville: A Systematic, Nonconformist, Comparative Philosopher of Religion,” in American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 40, no. 3 (Sep. 2020): 11-30; and “Comparative Metaphysics and Theology as a Scientific Endeavor: A Ruist (Confucian) Perspective,” Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 1, no. 2 (Fall 2019): 203-224.