Angle, S. C., Palmer, M., & Burgess, S. (2012). Confucianism: Contemporary Expressions. The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Social Justice.
Confucianism is one of the world’s great moral, philosophical, and spiritual traditions. It has been a central part of the religious lives of people throughout East Asia for more than two millennia. The last century has been a particularly challenging period for Confucian thinking and practice, however. As such, it makes sense for us to begin this consideration of contemporary Confucian perspectives on social justice with some background on Confucianism itself. On that basis, we can then move on to the main topic, which we will examine in two stages: first, the range of ways in which Confucianism figured in discussions of social justice in the twentieth century, and second, specific discussion of current Confucian thinkers and their views on social justice. In the conclusion, we briefly reflect on the ways in which the contemporary views we have examined are justified. This last topic is important because while we will see some significant areas of agreement — virtually all authors agree that Confucian social justice is intimately related to the idea of “harmony,” for instance — there are also important disagreements, and assessing the disagreements requires thinking about the structure of Confucian justification.