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“The spirit and practice of restorative justice in Chinese culture.”

Hui, Edwin C
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) In The spiritual roots of restorative justice, ed. Michael L. Hadley, 99-117. With an introduction by Michael L. Hadley. SUNY series in religious studies, ed. Harold Coward. Albany, New York, USA: State University of New York Press.

The authors survey the major schools of Chinese philosophy and religion- Confucianism, Taoism, and Moism -to demonstrate foundations for the spirit and practice of restorative justice in Chinese culture. In Confucian thought the principles of ren and li provide restorative foundations. Ren was used by Confucius as a relational concept indicating virtue in human relationships. Li referred to the set of rules fulfilling ren through propriety, affection, righteousness, and faithfulness. Crime defiles human nature or virtue (ren) and violates proper social relationships (li). Response to crime should aim for restoration of ren and li. In Taoist thought, the ideas of nature, action, and non-action provide restorative foundations. The Tao (the way, or the road, involving a simple and natural harmony) inheres in the cosmos, human nature, and human society. Crime then is deviance from or opposition to the natural Tao. Response to crime should involve restoration to a natural or original state for the individuals and relationships affected. In Moist thought, the emphases on universal love and social welfare provide restorative foundations. Mozi taught that social conflict (such as crime and war) exists because everyone loves himself or herself more than he or she loves others. The answer to evil then consists in universal love and mutual benevolence, in accord with the will of Heaven. In general then, in Chinese tradition, despite certain differences in philosophical and religious ideas, concepts of justice (yi) and punishment emphasize a virtue ethic, or substantive ethic, distinct from what the authors see as the abstract impartiality or formal justice of Western perspectives.


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