Intercultural Human Rights Law Review

First Page



In this paper, I will first examine social values in Chinese Confucian ethics and investigate if these values seek to protect what could be termed basic rights and freedoms of people. Such an inquiry is essential given the background of the lack of freedom of expression and conscience in contemporary China. I shall focus on examining those ideas in Confucian ethics that may contribute to upholding such freedom. Secondly, as a Roman Catholic, I will borrow from the example of Catholic social teachings, another ethical tradition, to show briefly the gradual development and acceptance of human rights discourse within the Roman Catholic tradition and the impact afterwards. I will also identify its distinctive features that differ from the Western liberal tradition. These differences can shed light on Confucian ethics when examining its implicit human rights values and show some commonalities between it and the Roman Catholic tradition relating to human rights concepts.