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Title: Teleological desert and justice
Author: Oh, Byung-Sun
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1991
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In this thesis I have tried to establish a theory of justice which would be plausible and acceptable in contemporary Korean society. The basic idea of justice I espouse is based on the notion of teleological desert. This is a liberal-communitarian conception of justice which is a amalgam between liberal individualism and traditional communitarian values. I have argued that the achievement of this kind of synthesis between two seemingly inconsistent and incompatible principles can be made possible only through the approach of a liberal perfectionist virtue ethics: for each member of society to become a more excellent human being in an autonomous way is a most viable way of realizing justice not only in personal relations but also in society at large. In order to nurture perfectionist virtue I have advocated a creative reconstruction of traditional Confucian ethics in a way that can suit any contemporary industrialized and capitalist society. The essential elements worth drawing from traditional Confucian philosophy seem to be a kind of work-ethic that stresses self-fulfilment and human perfection through hard work and the nurturing of virtue, rendering a person due reward and punishment according to his or her desert, and the priority of righteousness and harmonious common good over social utility understood in purely hedonists terms. However, I have put equal stress on the right to individual autonomy and self-determination which is an essential element to establish and identify a person's desert and responsibility. The notions of human dignity and worth and the individual right to freedom and equality which were transplanted to the East from the West have under rigorous pressure taken root in the Korean political culture as can be seen in the Korean constitutional history of the recent past. I suppose that the protection of the individual right to autonomy and privacy is an inviolable principle in Korean political morality. I believe that the theory of justice I have espoused in this thesis which comprises the three principles of desert, needs, and legal rights may find its justification in the prevailing political morality of the great majority of contemporary Korean people. Although the principle of justice is eesential and pivotal to building and maintaining a good society, it should not be regarded as an absolutely superior or all-encompassing notion to be applied to resolve any social issues. The principle of utility has a complementary or auxiliary part to play, and sometimes qualifies justice in a way which is necessary for securing the common good.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available