The challenge of “Chinese values” for global ethics

by AL on Thursday, 11 January 2007 Comments
Is a Gadamerian “fusion of horizons” possible between Western and Chinese ethics, so that the constitution of global ethics does not merely represent Western cultural imperialism? Or is it an impossible project because of irreconcilable differences between the “West” and “China”? This paper questions the false dichotomy implied in this debate and looks at ethical traditions as historical processes of discursive formation shaped by social and political factors. To illustrate this point, the paper will first look into the variety of approaches to global ethics deployed by different sections of contemporary Chinese society. The paper then argues that a more inclusive definition of “Chinese values” that is not limited to Confucianism and includes the ethics of the other spiritual traditions of China not only makes sense of the diversity observed in that country, but also strengthens the case about the necessity for a democracy that strengthen social welfare.
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