Hans-Georg Moeller and Dan Sarafinas discuss contemporary debates on “political correctness” and related moral and social issues. They point to concepts such as virtue speech (“virtue signalling”), civil religion, and the role of critique to better understand their nature.
The phenomenon of virtue speech (“virtue signalling”) has become a central feature in recent outrage movements pervasive throughout the West. Virtue speech, which is implicitly tied to accusations of hate speech, is a form of moralistic discourse setting speech examples that make it difficult to openly discuss elements of our culture without falling into the trap of moralizing.
Civil religion plays a central role in the virtue speech, or political correctness, discourse. The history of the concept is discussed as well as the structure of the American form of civil religion and how tenets of civil religion are constantly being performed and re-enacted, particularly in current social media outrage movements.
I know, all this self-promotion is getting a little embarrassing, but it’s great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. And if you are giving a lecture on a Warp, Weft, and Way topic, anywhere in the world, let me know and I’ll share the news! In any event: I’m lecturing on “Human Rights and Chinese Tradition” at 3:30pm on Wednesday, Feb 5 at Hong Kong Baptist University. It is free and open to the public, though they request registration; details are here.
I have recently completed a draft chapter, titled “Human Rights and Chinese Tradition,” for the Handbook on human rights in China being edited by Sarah Biddulph and Joshua Rosenzweig. Anyone interested can take a look; I have uploaded it to my personal archive here. Comments are very welcome!
The editors of a volume under contract to be entitled Routledge History of Human Rights are very keen to find potential chapters that deal with Chinese and/or East Asian perspectives on human rights. I attach the call here. Please respond directly to the editors.
A colloquium is being organized by Marius Vermaak (Rhodes University, South Africa), Daniel A. Bell (Jiaotong University, the PRC) and Thaddeus Metz (University of Johannesburg, South Africa), and is being supported by the Confucius Institute at Rhodes University (South Africa). To be held 10, 11 and 12 May 2013, and hosted by the Humanities Faculty of Jiaotong University in Shanghai.
Though this is not explicitly about Chinese or Comparative philosophy, some issues about the clash between Singapore and ideals of Western liberalism arise because of Singapore’s social policies that are authoritarian and, because of that, sometimes coded as Confucian. The AAUP authors below raise questions about the wisdom of collaboration and accommodationism by Yale University with an “authoritarian regime” and argue that what is at stake are “not simply ‘cultural differences’ but whether Yale recognizes universal human rights and the protections for academic staff.”
I’m inclined to say that cultural differences are not so simple and that they might problematize the recognition of “universal human rights.” Not that the existence of cultural differences negates the existence of universal rights, but that they pose an epistemological question about how much confidence, relatively speaking, the West should place in some of the freedoms as being universally owed to people simply in virtue of their humanity. That’s a long, theoretical discussion, in which it helps to specify which purported rights are universal in such a way.
I’m mostly interested here in the practical wisdom of a hardline “all or nothing” approach the AAUP authors seem to be arguing for below. That is, they seem to be arguing that Yale should keep its hands spotlessly clean by staying out of a collaboration altogether if a rather long list of guarantees cannot be met fully at the proposed Yale-NUS campus. (Here is the link to the UNESCO recommendations referenced below.)