Rule of Law in the Tension between Universality and Particularity – China in Focus

The interdisciplinary and intercultural research project aims to propose a new concept of the relationship between universality and particularity regarding the rule of law: the notion of universality should be uncoupled from the claim to the global realization. A timeless and context-independent universalism of the rule of law is to be replaced by another understanding of the universality. In this understanding, the normative validity of the rule of law is dependent upon social conditions. Instead of a single absolute universalism, a plurality of universalisms will be advocated. A shift from the polarity of universality and particularity to their symbiosis will be undertaken. The diversity of cultures is not to be conceived as their absolute incommensurability, but as the otherness of different cultures that could converge and learn from each other. In addition, the focus should be shifted from the extroverted search for a global minimal consensus or minimum standard on the rule of law to the introspective self-reflection and self-transformation. These could, among others, be initiated by the encounter with the other. Instead of looking for one overarching global consensus or standard, we should be more devoted to making it possible that each society, on the one hand, sets forth and further develops its own scheme of social and legal order on the basis of its social and cultural context and, on the other hand, develops a spirit of universality in this process and transcends its own context. A further but closely related aim of the project is the formulation of a scheme of Chinese rule of law. This scheme should be based on the Chinese social and cultural context, as well as transcend this context and carry a spirit of universality. It should aim at negotiating the threefold tension between tradition and modernity, between universality and particularity as well as between the Right and the Left. This threefold tension runs through the modern Chinese history till today. This scheme is neither only about a contribution to the legal transformation process in China, nor only about a contribution to the Western understanding of Chinese rule of law issues. It is also a matter of discovering mutual stimulation and enrichment between China and the Western world and of critical reflection on the Western theory and practice of the rule of law in the light of the discussion about rule of law issues in China.

Principal Investigators
Yang, Teng-Chieh Dr. (Details) (Public Law)

Duration of Project
Start date: 10/2013
End date: 06/2016

Last updated on 2020-30-09 at 13:19