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The Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy

Democratic Equality or Confucian Hierarchy

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
12:00 p.m.
10 Stone Ave, Room 201
Boston College

with Joseph Chan, Professor Political Theory, Social and Political Philosophy at University of Hong Kong

about the speaker


Joseph Chan

Joseph Chan was educated at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (BSocSc), the London School of Economics and Political Science (MSc), and the University of Oxford (DPhil). Chan is the former head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration, and founding Director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance at the University of Hong Kong. He was Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the Hong Kong University's Common Core Curriculum Committee from 2007-2016, and has been an elected member of the University's Council since November 2015. Professor Chan has won a number of awards from the University of Hong Kong, including: University Distinguished Teaching Award (2015), Research Output Prize in the Faculty of Social Sciences (2015), and the Social Science Outstanding Research Output Award for Basic Research (2014-2015).

Chan researches in the areas of political theory and researches in the areas of Confucian political philosophy, contemporary liberalism and perfectionism, human rights, and civil society. Specifically, he has concentrated on the ways in which Confucian political thought can mix with liberal democratic traditions and the implications for this on human rights, social justice, and civil liberty. Decoupling democratic institutions from their typical foundation in liberal political philosophy and individual sovereignty, he advocates that they can be grounded on Confucian principles in such a way that democratic governance and participation are strengthened, not hindered. In this way, the spirit of the Confucian ideal can address modern social and political challenges. He explores these issues in his book Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times (January, 2014). Chan's latest book, East Asian Perspectives on Political Legitimacy: Bridging the Empirical-Normative Divide (2016), discusses ways in which people determine and establish legitimacy of government and its principles.

Professor Chan has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute. His articles have been published in China QuarterlyEthicsHistory of Political Thought,Journal of Chinese PhilosophyJournal of DemocracyOxford Journal of Legal StudiesPhilosophy and Public Affairs, and Philosophy East and West.