Which Confucianism? And What Liberty?

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary WorksRGC 12 - Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review

2 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConfucian Political Philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationDialogues on the State of the Field
EditorsRobert A. Carleo III, Yong Huang
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Number of pages13
ISBN (electronic)978-3-030-70611-1
ISBN (print)978-3-030-70610-4
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2021


Ruiping FAN responds to Ho Chuen KWAN BY arguing that Kwan’s criticisms are grounded in liberal individualist presumptions and misrepresent traditional Confucian teachings. Confucian morality and its value of harmony do not imply self-determination; rather, authentically Confucian views support family determination: for important individual (and family) issues, both the individual and the family possess moral authority and hold a veto right in decisions. This is a middle-way position, as it rejects not only individual determination but also parental domination. Fan admits that his notion of Confucian family determination is not found directly in the classical texts, but believes broader understanding of the importance of the family in Confucian teachings supports his notion, as do the ritual practices recorded in classical texts. Fan argues also that Kwan draws a false contrast between familial decision making and the subject’s own determination of what is good and right: in Confucian tradition, family determination is itself precisely how we find and follow the proper way. Moreover, a distinctively Confucian value of liberty is embedded within traditional notions of harmony; this Confucian conception of harmonious liberty contrasts with liberal tradition’s self-initiating conception of liberty (which emphasizes individual autonomy), while also avoiding the opposite extreme of family authoritarianism imposed by compulsory laws. Confucian familial decision making is neither paternalistic nor democratic, but rather harmonious.

Bibliographic Note

Research Unit(s) and month information for this publication is provided by the author(s) concerned.

Citation Format(s)

Which Confucianism? And What Liberty? / Fan, Ruiping.
Confucian Political Philosophy: Dialogues on the State of the Field. ed. / Robert A. Carleo III; Yong Huang. 1. ed. Switzerland: Springer, Cham, 2021. p. 89-99.

Research output: Chapters, Conference Papers, Creative and Literary WorksRGC 12 - Chapter in an edited book (Author)peer-review