Would Early Confucians Really Support Humanitarian Interventions?

Philosophy East and West 66 (3):818-841 (2016)
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Many scholars view Confucianism as relatively open to war, as a legitimate tool for maintaining order and rescuing oppressed peoples. Indeed, it is not uncommon for statements such as the following to be presented as though they were straightforward matters of fact: “Confucians would approve the use of force by one state against another state for the protection against abusive rule in the latter if properly carried out”.1 Such claims find support in the work of Daniel A. Bell, Tongdong Bai, and Yan Xuetong. Both Bell and Bai are explicit in their view that Confucians ought to support some humanitarian interventions. Bai writes, “When it is humane and strong, a state...



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Kurtis Hagen
University of Hawaii (PhD)

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