Human Rights in Chinese Thought: A Cross-Cultural Inquiry / Edition 1

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"China poses great challenges to human rights in theory and practice. In practice, China is considered, by the measure of most Western countries, to have a patchy record of protecting individuals' human rights. In the theoretical realm, Chinese intellectuals and government officials have challenged the idea that the term "human rights" can be universally understood in one single way and have often opposed attempts by Western countries to impose international standards on Asian countries." "What should we make of these challenges - and of claims by members of other groups to have moralities of their own? Human Rights and Chinese Thought gives an extended answer to these questions in the first study of its kind. Stephen C. Angle integrates a full account of the development of Chinese rights discourse - reaching back to important, although neglected, origins of that discourse in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Confucianism - with philosophical considerations of how various communities should respond to contemporary Chinese claims about the uniqueness of their human rights concepts." Drawing on Western thinkers such as Richard Rorty, Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Walzer, Allan Gibbard, and Robert Brandom, Angle elaborates a plausible kind of moral pluralism and demonstrates that Chinese ideas of human rights do indeed have distinctive characteristics. His conclusion is not that we should ignore one another, though. Despite our differences, Angle argues that cross-cultural moral engagement is legitimate and even morally required. International moral dialogue is a dynamic and complex process, and we all have good reasons for continuing to work toward bridging our differences.
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Editorial Reviews

Although there is indeed a distinct Chinese moral code that differs from Western thought on issues of human rights, cross-cultural moral dialogue is an imperative within a view that accepts moral pluralism. So argues Angle (philosophy, Wesleyan U.) as he integrates an analysis of the historical development of Chinese conceptions of (rights) and (people's rights) with an engagement of the ideas of such Western philosophers as Richard Rorty, Alasdair MacIntyre, Michael Walzer, and Allan Gibbard. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"A historical orientation makes [this book] of immense interest beyond circles of human rights theorists and philosophers...engaging and provocative..." China Rights Forum

"There has been a flurry of fine books within the last decade on the debate about the history and role of human rights in China, and Professor Stephen Angle has written one of the best, if not the best of the lot." - John Berthrong, Boston University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521007528
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2008
  • Series: Cambridge Modern China Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 Introduction 1
1.1 Recent History 3
1.2 Current Approaches: Insights and Limitations 5
1.3 This Book 22
Ch. 2 Languages, Concepts, and Pluralism 26
2.1 Concepts 27
2.2 Conceptual Distances 39
2.3 Pluralism 45
Ch. 3 The Consequences of Pluralism 49
3.1 Our Own Values 51
3.2 Static Attitudes 57
3.3 Dynamic Engagement 65
3.4 Multiple Strategies and Divided Communities 70
Ch. 4 The Shift toward Legitimate Desires in Neo-Confucianism 74
4.1 Neo-Confucianism against Desire? 75
4.2 Embracing Desires 83
Ch. 5 Nineteenth-Century Origins 101
5.1 Translation of International Law 104
5.2 The Self-Strengthening Movement 111
5.3 Japan 115
5.4 Reformers in the 1890s 123
Ch. 6 Dynamism in the Early Twentieth Century 140
6.1 Liang and Jhering 141
6.2 Liu Shipei's Concept of Quanli 162
Ch. 7 Change, Continuity, and Convergence prior to 1949 178
7.1 Chen Duxiu 181
7.2 Gao Yihan 188
7.3 Convergence: John Dewey 194
7.4 Marxism and Leninism 200
Ch. 8 Engagement despite Distinctiveness 205
8.1 Rights and Interests 208
8.2 Rights and Harmony 225
8.3 Political versus Economic Rights 239
Ch. 9 Conclusions 250
Bibliography 259
Glossary and Index 275
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