Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0957-6851
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9838
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This article examines and rejects the perspective that Confucianism was compatible with a notion of rights. In contrast to the established doctrine of human rights which conceives human beings as moral equals, Confucianism was grounded in a philosophy and practice of moral inequality which measured human morality in relation to each person’s position in the familial and social hierarchy. The roots of the Confucian antipathy towards human rights stemmed from the overriding significance attached to the attainment of social harmony since it was this that justified the apparent need for a hierarchical and therefore unequal society. This propensity towards harmony and hierarchy also ran counter to the notion that individuals possessed rights per se. With each person in the hierarchy expected to perform an onerous array of duties, there was little, if any, room for the pursuit of independent or separate interests. Consequently, any understanding that individuals were endowed with “rights” was stifled from the outset.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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