Must even Confucian rights skeptics—those who are, on account of their Confucian beliefs, skeptical of the existence of human rights, and believe that asserting or recognizing rights is morally wrong—concede that in the workplace, they are morally obligated to recognize rights? Alan Strudler has recently argued that such is the case. In this article, I argue that because Confucian rights skeptics locate wrongness in inconsistency with the idea of “Confucian community,” Confucian community should be viewed as a moral ideal. I then argue that Confucian rights skeptics ought to act in a manner that is consistent with this ideal, even when the ideal has not yet been realized, just as Kantians ought to act consistently with the Kantian kingdom of ends ideal. Accordingly, contrary to Strudler, I argue that Confucian rights skeptics need not concede that they are morally obligated to recognize rights in the workplace. This conclusion suggests the need for inquiry into the metaphysical foundations of these conflicting views. However, such inquiry is commonly thought to lie beyond the scope of philosophical business ethics proper. I conclude the article by suggesting a number of reasons for business ethicists to consider rejecting the prevalent narrow conception of the scope of the discipline.
In this discussion I explore challenges to a particular Confucian system of morality that generally eschews reliance on rights. I argue that such a system may at the same time both assert that there are moral problems with rights and assert that it is acceptable to invoke rights in limited contexts. Adam Bailey has objected that the position I defend is inconsistent. I answer Bailey’s objections.