New Book: Kim, Confucian Constitutionalism: Dignity, Rights, and Democracy

Sungmoon Kim’s new book Confucian Constitutionalism: Dignity, Rights, and Democracy has just been published by Oxford University Press; for more information, see here.

This book aims to present a constitutional theory of democratic self-government that is normatively appealing and politically practicable in East Asia’s historically Confucian societies that are increasingly pluralist, multicultural, and rights sensitive—namely, Confucian democratic constitutionalism. Inspired by early twentieth-century Confucian constitutionalists such as Liang Qichao and Liang Shuming who explored the Chinese people’s self-government in the Confucian soil, this book constructs a political theory in which democratic self-government and constitutional protection of rights are mutually constitutive and reinforcing. First, it presents egalitarian human dignity as the underlying moral value of Confucian constitutionalism. Then, it derives two foundational rights from Confucian egalitarian dignity—the equal right to political participation and the equal right to constitutional protection of civil and political rights—and shows how each of these rights justifies the establishment of the legislature and the judiciary, respectively, as two independent constitutional institutions equally committed to the protection and promotion of the people’s moral and material well-being, now reformulated in terms of rights. Promoting active dialogue between the legislature and the constitutional court in mediation of Confucian public reason, Confucian democratic constitutionalism is distinguished not only from Confucian meritocratic constitutionalism, which rejects the ideal of democratic self-government, but also from two dominant Western models of constitutionalism—liberal legal constitutionalism and political constitutionalism.

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