Feb 3: Eun Young Hwang, “Comparative Religious Ethics: Augustine and Xunzi”

Wednesday, February 3, 2016, 4:30-6:00pm (Swift 106)
Eun Young Hwang

A Constructive Comparative Religious Ethical Analysis of Augustine and Xunzi: The Sacred Origin of Human Rights and Its Demand for Just Society

Abstract: In order to compare two historically unrelated religious- moral-political traditions concerning human dignity/rights, and justice, I argue that we can set a third term for interpretation/comparison with a constructive ethical concern by referring to some contemporary theories of human rights and global justice which address the foundation of human rights and some universal criteria of justice cutting across particular conceptions. In that respect, I will show how Augustine and Xunzi show similarities and dissimilarities in their concern for the sacredness of person (Joas) as the source of entitlement for the rights of good life, which demands social institutions not to violate human rights, by rendering fairly to each person rights for human flourishing with a cross-culturally shared conception of minimal justice in securing rights for basic goods for flourishing (Pogge). First, in terms of the sacredness of human person, my comparison shows how both Augustine and Xunzi grounds the person’s evaluative, volitional capability on her relation to some divine reality, having strong commitment for securing access to good, worthwhile life while resorting to social institutions to protect it from diverse disvalued forms of values, desires, sociality. Second, in terms of the cross-cultural criteria of minimal justice and culture specific conceptions, this comparison also show how both Augustine and Xunzi developed their views on securing rights for basic goods subservient for person’s flourishing such as the rights for ethical worldview, socio-political participation, and various physical goods, economic participation and education, with different value-orientations organizing different goods.

Co-sponsored with the Philosophy of Religions Workshop. Refreshments will be provided.