Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 July 2022
In recent years, Confucian philosophers have vigorously explored the ideal of human dignity by reinterpreting key classical Confucian texts, giving rise to two contending accounts of human dignity: egalitarian dignity versus meritocratic dignity. Meritocratic dignity understands human dignity as an achievement, the outcome of a long process of moral self-cultivation, while egalitarian dignity, inspired by Mencius who believes that human nature is good, disagrees with the strong virtue-ethical account of human dignity and shift attention to universal moral potentiality. After showing that each Confucian account underpins a distinctive political system – Confucian constitutional democracy and Confucian political meritocracy, respectively – this chapter attempts to reinforce the egalitarian account of Confucian dignity from the standpoint of Xunzian Confucianism predicated on the assumption that human nature is bad. The chapter argues that, whereas meritocratc dignity is limited in justifying the independent judiciary and protecting citizens’ rights, egalitarian dignity can coherently undergird the principle of the separation of power and the right to political participation.