Confucian Virtue Jurisprudence
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
Virtue jurisprudence is an approach to legal theory that develops the implications of virtue ethics and virtue politics for the law. Recent work on virtue jurisprudence has emphasized a NeoAristotelian approach. This essay develops a virtue jurisprudence in the Confucian tradition. The title of this essay, “Confucian Virtue Jurisprudence,” reflects the central aim of our work, to build a contemporary theory of law that is both virtue-centered and that provides a contemporary reconstruction of the central ideas of the early Confucian intellectual tradition.
This essay provides a sketch of our contemporary version of Confucian virtue jurisprudence, including a view of (1) the ends of law, (2) legislation and the judiciary, (3) the nature of law. We shall argue that the highest value of Confucian ethical, political theory is the virtue of citizens and the harmony of society and individuals. From the perspective of the use of evaluative language, the Confucian doctrine of Correcting Names gives us an explanation of the mechanism of internalization of legal rules in terms of the relationship among social norms, law and thick evaluative concepts. This might throw light on our normative understanding of legislation and the judiciary,and it also provides a functional account of the nature of law.