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Balancing Rights and Trust: Towards a Fiduciary Common Future

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If the current trend is any guide, it looks like we are heading towards a future in which relationships are determined and regulated by rights. In addition to the 'universal human rights' declared soon after the Second World War, other 'universal rights' have been declared and added to the list of rights, such as the rights of the child, the rights of indigenous peoples and so on. A question arises as to whether a world in which our relationships are governed entirely on the basis of rights is an appealing one. I want to suggest that if our common future is regulated entirely by rights then we are moving in the wrong direction. By contrast, Tu Wei-ming believes that if Confucianism flourishes, we will move towards a society based on trust rather than rights, or what he calls a 'fiduciary society'. I will argue that while Tu's Confucian fiduciary society is perhaps an impractical ideal, a move towards it will provide a necessary counter-balance to the relentless march towards a rights-based society.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2011

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