Acta Cogitata: An Undergraduate Journal in Philosophy


In the West, the core value that informs how we create and think about rights is autonomy, especially for the individual. For the ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius, the core value to be pursued is harmony or the well-being of society as a whole. In this paper I argue that the West should also make harmony our core value. To make my case, I take influence from Confucius to look at how his theory differs from typical Western political theory. I discuss Confucius’ emphasis on duties rather than rights, the idea of citizenship as a privilege rather than a right, and I aim to dismiss the concern that a pursuit of harmony would lead to an authoritarian state or diminish our autonomy.

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