Just Hierarchy: Why Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World

Virtual book talk with Daniel A. Bell and Wang Pei

We invite all interested to join us for an online book talk, in which Daniel A. Bell and Wang Pei will present their latest book Just Hierarchy: Why Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World, published by Princeton University Press.

Following the presentation, the floor will be opened for questions and comments from the audience.

The event will be moderated by Chunrong Liu, Managing Director of the Fudan Centre. Wang Zhengxu, Professor at Fudan University, will be commentator.

The Book

Just hierarchyAll complex and large-scale societies are organized along certain hierarchies, but the concept of hierarchy has become almost taboo in the modern world. Just Hierarchy contends that this stigma is a mistake. In fact, as Daniel Bell and Wang Pei show, it is neither possible nor advisable to do away with social hierarchies. Drawing their arguments from Chinese thought and culture as well as other philosophies and traditions, Bell and Wang ask which forms of hierarchy are justified and how these can serve morally desirable goals. They 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.

Which hierarchical relations are morally justified and why? Bell and Wang argue that it depends on the nature of the social relation and context. Different hierarchical principles ought to govern different kinds of social relations: what justifies hierarchy among intimates is different from what justifies hierarchy among citizens, countries, humans and animals, and humans and intelligent machines. Morally justified hierarchies can and should govern different spheres of our social lives, though these will be very different from the unjust hierarchies that have governed us in the past.

A vigorous, systematic defense of hierarchy in the modern world, Just Hierarchy examines how hierarchical social relations can have a useful purpose, not only in personal domains but also in larger political realms.

For reviews and more on the book, please click here.

The Speakers

d bellDaniel A. Bell is dean of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at Shandong University. His books include The China Model and The Spirit of Cities (coauthored with Avner de-Shalit). In 2018, he was awarded the Huilin Prize and was honored as a “Cultural Leader” by the World Economic Forum.

Wang PeiWang Pei is assistant professor at The China Institute of Fudan University. She has authored academic articles in English, Chinese, and French. She is currently writing a book titled “The Power of Calligraphy: A Political History of Calligraphy in China.”