Abstract: All complex and large-scale societies are organized along certain hierarchies, but the concept of hierarchy has become almost taboo in the modern world. In their new book Just Hierarchy: Why Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World (Princeton University Press, 2020), Daniel A. Bell and Wang Pei contend that this stigma is a mistake. In fact, it is neither possible nor advisable to do away with social hierarchies. In this talk, Bell and Pei will draw on the example of political hierarchy in China to show that some social hierarchies are justified and can serve morally desirable goals. Our task is to look at ways of promoting just forms of hierarchy while minimizing the influence of unjust ones, such as those based on race, sex, or caste.
Daniel A. Bell was educated at McGill University and Oxford University. He is currently Dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University (Qingdao) and professor at Tsinghua University (Beijing) His latest book (co-authored with Wang Pei) Just Hierarchy will be published by Princeton University Press in February 2020. His previous books include The China Model, Spirit of Cities (co-authored with Avner de-Shalit), China's New Confucianism, Beyond Liberal Democracy and East Meets West (all Princeton University Press). He is founding editor of the Princeton-China series. In 2018, he was awarded the Huilin Prize and was honored as a "Cultural Leader" by the World Economic Forum. In 2019, he was awarded the Special Book Award of China.
Wang Pei is Assistant professor at The China Institute of Fudan University. She completed her PhD thesis on phenomenology at the department of philosophy of Tsinghua University. She was a post-doc fellow at the Tsinghua Institute of Advanced Study in Humanities and Social Science. She has authored academic articles in English, Chinese, and French, mainly on phenomenology, ethics, and comparative philosophy. Her book (co-authored with Daniel A Bell) Just Hierarchy will be published by Princeton University Press in February 2020. She is currently writing a book titled "The Power of Calligraphy: A Political History of Calligraphy in China."