A study of “justice as righteousness” and a way out of patrimonial-capital cage: Should “righteousness” be regarded as categorical imperative, maximizing utility, or idea of rooted in people?

Wang, Chun Ping (2016). 'A study of “justice as righteousness” and a way out of patrimonial-capital cage: Should “righteousness” be regarded as categorical imperative, maximizing utility, or idea of rooted in people?' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.


abstract
Facing patrimonial capitalism and serious intergenerational un-justice situation , different from many western scholars’ criticisms and proposals, such as Michael Sandel, Martha Nussbaum, Chet Bowers, Peter Barnes, Thomas Piketty, this article shifts to ancient eastern horizon to extend alternative thinking for social justice. In the idea of ancient Confucianism, which emphasizes “righteousness” is not an unchangeable ruler, whether it is a “right” act or not, people should judge by its real context. Obviously, This relative or contextualizing explanation of “righteousness” is similar to the ancient Indian philosophy of “niti-nyaya” dichotomous framework in Amartya Sen’s Idea of Justice. The purposes of this article are as follows: firstly, to give a brief sketch about un-justice plights of patrimonial capitalism; secondly, to indicate triple meanings of “righteousness” and to embody  “righteousness”  should be taken as relative practical wisdom, not as “absolute”, “universal”, or “perfect” of moral imperative; finally, to summarize the possible contributions via comparisons of these eastern ancient thought and to provide an alternative approach for discussion of contemporary justice theories .
This article will further discuss two main questions:
First, is Mencius’s distinction between righteousness and benefit to be solely understood as “righteousness without benefit?” It is undeniable that Chinese researchers have proposed many different philosophical ideas. Some of them refuted the idea that justice was viewed as an immutable iron rule during the Spring and Autumn Period. Some have labeled Mencius as a utilitarian. Still, there are those who believe that Mencius’s people-oriented philosophy contains democratic and social contract connotations. If contrasted with the Western political philosophy, each of the above-mentioned viewpoints could offer deeper insights into the issue.
Second, if "righteousness” - as understood by Mencius - is not achieved or practiced solely in situations where benefit is totally denied, then wouldn’t it be possible to look at Mencius’s ideology as close to the concept of “nyaya” in terms of meaning? .
 
Facing intergenerational un-justice situation, what can we learn from rethinking the original meaning of “righteousness” or Indian idea of“nyaya”? In the follow writing, I try to provide an supplemental horizon for capability approach theory development.

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