Professor Joseph C. W. CHAN 陳祖為

Joseph Chan received his bachelor's degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, his master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. He teaches political theory and his research focuses on Confucian political philosophy, contemporary liberalism and perfectionism, democratic theory, social cohesion and civil society. His articles have appeared in many journals, including Philosophy and Public Affairs, Ethics, History of Political Thought, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Journal of Democracy, Philosophy East and West, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, and The China Quarterly.

Joseph served as head of the Department of Politics and Public Administration between 2002 and 2004, and again from 2011 to 2013. He was founding director of the Centre for Civil Society and Governance in the Faculty of Social Sciences from 2003 to 2009. He was deputy chairman and chairman of the University’s Common Core Curriculum Committee from 2007 to 2016, and an elected member of the University's Council from 2015 to 2018. 

Joseph has been Visiting Scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute, Harvard University (1999 to 2000) and Global Scholar and Visiting Professor at the University Center for Human Values, Princeton University (Spring 2019, Spring 2020, and Fall 2022). In 2021, he is Visiting Scholar at the Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, Academia Sinica.

Joseph has received several awards from the University of Hong Kong, including the University Distinguished Teaching Award (2015), Research Output Prize (Faculty of Social Sciences, 2015), Social Sciences Outstanding Research Output Award (2014-15), and Best Teacher Award (elected by students) (Faculty of Social Sciences, 1991).


  • Joseph Chan, Doh Shin, and Melissa Williams eds. East Asian Perspectives on Political Legitimacy: Bridging the Empirical-Normative Divide, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016, 267pp.
  • Confucian Perfectionism: A Political Philosophy for Modern Times, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014; Paperback, 2015, 272 pp. Chinese translation: 《儒家致善主義: 現代政治哲學重構》,周昭德、韓銳、陳永政譯,香港商務印書館,2016.
  • Eliza Lee, Elaine Chan, Joseph Chan, Peter Cheung, Wai Fung Lam, and Wai-man Lam, Public Policymaking in Hong Kong: Civic Engagement and State-society Relations in a Semi-democracy (London: Routledge, 2013), 168pp.
  • Joseph Chan and Man-to Leung eds. 陳祖為、梁文韜《政治理論在中國》 [Political Theory in China] (Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 2001), 396pp, in Chinese.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

  • Brian Wong and Joseph Chan, “How Should Liberal Democratic Governments Treat Conscientious Disobedience as A Response to State Injustice? A Proposal,” Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement Vol. 91 (2022): 141-167.
  • "Is Democracy Coming to Knock on China’s Door? A Reply to Jiwei Ci’s Democracy in China,” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 21 (2022): 451-466.
  • 「儒家思想如何在現代社會中開展及實踐: 從余英時對儒學的反思開始」, 《思想》 第45期 (2022): 223-246.
  • “Equality, Friendship, and Politics,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Vol. 121, Issue 3 (2021): 275-298.
  • Joseph Chan and Franz Mang, “Is Popular Sovereignty a Useful Myth?” in Melissa Williams ed., Deparochializing Political Theory (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2020), pp. 149-173.
  • Joseph Chan, “Public Reason Confucianism without Foundation?” Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. 50, No. 2 (2019): 134-144.
  • Joseph Chan and Elaine Chan, “Social Cohesion with Asian Characteristics? Conceptual and Methodological Reflections” in Bertelsmann Stiftung ed., What Holds Asian Societies Together? Insights from the Social Cohesion Radar (Gutersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung, 2018), pp.149-168.
  • “Freedom, the Good, and China’s Moral Crisis,” Philosophy East and West, Vol.68, No.2 (2018): 583-589.
  • Elaine Chan and Joseph Chan, “Hong Kong 2007-2017: A Backlash in Civil Society,” Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration, Vol. 39, No. 2 (2017): 135-152.
  • “Confucian Perfectionism: A Response to Kim, Angle, Wong, Li, Chiu, and Ames,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. 67, No.1 (2017): 82-95.
  • Melissa Williams, Joseph Chan, and Doh Shin, “Political Legitimacy in East Asia: Bridging Normative and Empirical Analysis,” in Joseph Chan, Doh Shin, and Melissa Williams, eds. East Asian Perspectives on Political Legitimacy: Bridging the Empirical-Normative Divide (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp.1-24.
  • “Reply to Ci Jiwei,” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, Vol. 14, No. 4 (2015): 589-591.
  • "'Self-Restriction' and the Confucian Case for Democracy," Philosophy East and West, 64:3 (July 2014): 785-795; “Reply to Stephen A. Angle,” 798-799.
  • Joseph Chan and Elton Chan, "Confucianism and Political Leadership," in Paul't Hart and R.A.W. Rhodes eds. The Oxford Handbook of Political Leadership (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 57-71 .
  • Elaine Chan and Joseph Chan, "Liberal Patriotism in Hong Kong," Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 23, No. 89 (2014): 952-970.
  • “Political Meritocracy and Meritorious Rule: A Confucian Perspective,” in Daniel A. Bell and Chenyang Li eds. The East Asian Challenge for Democracy: Political Meritocracy in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 31-54.
  • “Political Authority and Perfectionism: A Response to Quong,” Philosophy and Public Issues, Vol.2, No.2 (Fall 2012): 31-41.
  • "On the Legitimacy of Confucian Constitutionalism," in Jiang Qing, A Confucian Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future, edited by Daniel A. Bell and Ruiping Fan, translated by Edmund Ryden (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), pp. 99-112
  • "Confucianism and Social Justice: Historical Setting," in Michael D. Palmer and Stanley M. Burgess eds. Companion to Religion and Social Justice (Oxford: Blackwell, 2012), pp. 77-92.
  • Elaine Chan and Joseph Chan, "Social Cohesion in a Semi-Democracy: the Case of Hong Kong," in Paul Spoonley and Erin Tolley eds. Diverse Nations, Diverse Responses: Approaches to Social Cohesion in Immigrant Societies (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2012), pp. 215-235.
  • "Confucianism and Human Rights," in John Witte Jr. and M. Christian Green eds. Religion and Human Rights (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 87-102.
  • "Concerns beyond the Family" American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 10, Issue 4 (Apr 2010): 82-84.
  • "Political Perfectionism," Mark Bevir (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Theory (Sage, 2010).
  • Joseph Chan and Elaine Chan, "Social Auditing," Helmut Anheier & Stefan Toepler (Eds.) International Encyclopedia of Civil Society (Arlington, VA: Springer, 2010), pp. 1384-1388.
  • Elaine Chan and Joseph Chan, "Social Cohesion and Governance Problems in the Tung Chee-hwa Era," in Ming Sing ed. Politics and Government in Hong Kong: Crisis Under Chinese Sovereignty (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2009), pp. 85-111.
  • "Political Confucianism As a Modern Philosophy: Challenges and Obstacles," in Fan Ruiping ed. Confucian Society and the Revival of the Moral Tradition (Huadong Shifan University Press, 2008), pp. 31-42 (in Chinese). 范瑞平編,《儒家社會與道統復興-與蔣慶對話》『政治儒學作為一種現代學說所面臨的挑戰與困難』(上海:華東師範大學出版社).
  • "Is There a Confucian Perspective on Social Justice?" in Takashi Shogimen and Cary J. Nederman eds. Western Political Thought in Dialogue with Asia (Lanhan MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), pp. 261-277.
  • "Democracy and Meritocracy: Toward a Confucian Perspective," Journal of Chinese Philosophy Vol. 34, No.2 (2007): 179-193.
  • Elaine Chan and Joseph Chan, "The First Ten Years of HKSAR: Civil Society Comes of Age," The Asian Pacific Journal of Public Administration, Vol. 29, No.1 (2007): 77-99.
  • "Confucian Political Philosophy," in E. Craig (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Internet Version) (London: Routledge, 2006).
  • Joseph Chan and Elaine Chan, "Charting the State of Social Cohesion in Hong Kong," The China Quarterly (No. 187, September 2006): 635-658.
  • Joseph Chan and Elaine Chan, "A Confused Public? Perceptions of Universal Suffrage and Functional Representation in Hong Kong," Asian Survey Vol. 46 No. 2 (2006): 257-274.
  • Joseph Chan, Benny To, and Elaine Chan, "Reconsidering Social Cohesion: Developing a Definition and Analytical Framework for Empirical Research," Social Indicators Research Vol.75, No. 2(2006):273-302
  • "Prendre en compte la diversite culturelle dans les droits de l'homme: Commentair," (" Accommodating Cultural Diversity Within Human Rights: A Comment") in Droits humains et Droit international: Fondements et Universalite ( France : UNESCO, 2006): 57-75).
  • "Exploring the Non-familial in Confucian Political Philosophy," in Hahm Chaihark and Daniel A. Bell, eds. The Politics of Affective Relations: East Asia and Beyond ( New York : Lexington Books, Rowman and Littlefield, 2004), pp. 61-74.
  • "Giving Priority to the Worst Off: A Confucian Perspective on Social Welfare," Daniel Bell and Chaibong Hahm eds. Confucianism for the Modern World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 236-253.
  • "Confucian Attitudes Toward Ethical Pluralism" in Richard Madsen and Tracy B. Strong eds. The Many and the One: Religious and Secular Perspectives on Ethical Pluralism in the Modern World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 129-153.
  • "Moral Autonomy, Civil Liberties, and Confucianism," Philosophy East and West, Vol. 52, No. 3 (July 2002), pp. 281-310.
  • "Territorial Boundaries and Confucianism," in David Miller and Sohail Hashmi eds. Boundaries and Justice: Diverse Ethical Perspectives (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001), pp. 89-111.
  • "Authority," Encyclopedia of Democratic Thought edited by Paul Barry Clarke and Joe Foweraker (London: Routledge, 2001).
  • "Thick and Thin Accounts of Human Rights: Lessons from the Asian Values Debate" in Michael Jacobsen and Ole Bruun eds. Human Rights and Asian Values: Contesting National Identities and Cultural Representations in Asia (Surrey: Curzon Press, 2000), pp. 59-74.
  • "Legitimacy, Unanimity, and Perfectionism," Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 29, No. 1 (2000), pp. 5-43.
  • "A Confucian Perspective on Human Rights for Contemporary China ," in Joanne R. Bauer and Daniel A. Bell eds. The East Asian Challenge for Human Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp.212-237.
  • "Hong Kong, Singapore , and 'Asian Values': An Alternative View," Journal of Democracy, Vol. 8, No.2 (1997), pp.35-48.
  • "Raz on Liberal Rights and Common Goods," Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 15, No.1 (1995), pp. 15-31.
  • "The Asian Challenge to Universal Human Rights: A Philosophical Perspective", in James T.H. Tang ed., Human Rights and International Relations in the Asia-Pacific Region, (London: Pinter, 1995), pp.25-38.
  • "Does Aristotle's Political Theory Rest on a 'Blunder'?" History of Political Thought, Vol. XIII, No. 2, (1992), pp. 189-202.
  • Joseph Chan and David Miller, "Elster on Self-realization in Politics," Ethics, Vol. 102, No.1 (1991), pp. 96-102.