Common Good and the Ethics of Global Poverty: A Confucian Perspective

  • Jonathan ChanEmail author
Part of the Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture book series (PSCC, volume 23)


In 2008, a workshop on “Absolute Poverty and Global Justice” was held in Erfurt, Germany. The participants came from different disciplines as well as different countries. They were economists, legal scholars, moral philosophers, development practitioners, political scientists, and theologians. The meeting was focused on absolute poverty and global inequality: their levels, trends, and determinants; their moral assessment; and their eradication through specific policies and structural reforms. The participants argued that absolute poverty in the world is unacceptably large, affecting at least one billion human beings, and that much faster progress against absolute poverty is possible through reductions of national and global inequalities (Mack et al. 2009, p. xv). However, they also argued that traditional approaches to global poverty alleviation have not worked, and that efforts founded on a well-meaning charitable concern and individual donations in cash and kind, together with a general but neutral public notion of social responsibility reflected in official aid allocations, are not sufficient (Ward 2009, p. xix). The participants agreed that international agencies as well as the citizens, corporations, and governments of affluent countries bear a moral responsibility to reduce absolute poverty (Mack et al. 2009, p. xv). The moral position of the participants of the workshop is then clear: it is our moral obligation to help the global poor (i.e., reducing absolute poverty at the global level), if we are capable of providing help to them. It is also the moral position that many people hold. For instance, followers of some great religious or moral traditions, such as the Catholic, the Buddhist, the Daoist, and the Confucian, endorse the moral position in question.


Moral Obligation Common Good Political Community Moral Duty Moral Position 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Religion and PhilosophyHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongHong Kong, SAR

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