What are the arguments in favor of social hierarchies? Are there differences in how hierarchy is viewed and valued in China compared with other countries? Which forms of social hierarchy are morally justified and how can they be promoted in the future?Drawing on a wide range of philosophical arguments, historical examples, and social science evidence from various cultural traditions, Daniel A. Bell and Wang Pei have developed their argument that different hierarchical principles should govern distinct kinds of social relations with chapters devoted to citizens, countries, animals and machines. In Just Hierarchy: Why Social Hierarchies Matter in China and the Rest of the World (Princeton University Press, 2020) the authors take aim at the egalitarian ideal of individual rights as being too narrow, and not necessarily the right one for all societies. Available in hardcover and Kindle editions, Just Hierarchy examines how hierarchical social relations can have a useful purpose, not only in personal domains but also in larger political realms.’Daniel A. Bell is dean of the school of political science and public administration at Shandong University, and Wang Pei is an assistant professor at Fudan University’s China Institute. Currently, both are working on the Chinese translation of their book. The interview was conducted in Shanghai about two months after the initial outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic in China.
Keith Krueger lectures at the SHU-UTS Business School in Shanghai.