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.
A new essay called “In Defense of Hierarchy,” the joint responsibility of several of us but largely written by Julian Baggini, has been published at Aeon. It is the fruit of discussions at a conference sponsored by the Berggruen Philosophy and Culture Center, and is an interesting example of comparative or what some folks are now calling cosmopolitan philosophy. Enjoy!
My review of Sungmoon Kim, Public Reason Confucianism: Democratic Perfectionism and Constitutionalism in East Asia (Cambridge, 2016) recently appeared in Ethics 127:3. The first paragraph of the review follows. A pre-publication version of the whole review is available here. Continue reading →
Did Confucius think that if one of us has general virtue, or some particular virtue such as courage or filial piety, that general or particular virtue will have a substantial tendency to spread directly to the people around her, even if she holds no government position?
Here I’ll survey Confucius’ statements in the Analects and conclude that the answer is No. Confucius probably did not hold that view. (I gave the opposite reading in both my published papers on Chinese philosophy.)
Sungmoon Kim’s new book, Public Reason Confucianism: Democratic Perfectionism and Constitutionalism in East Asia (Cambridge, 2016) has just been published. Congratulations, Sungmoon! Here are links to the CUP website and Amazon. Cambridge has also made available a form that anyone can use to get a 25% discount; click here. Here is the book’s description:
Recent proposals concerning Confucian meritocratic perfectionism have justified Confucian perfectionism in terms of political meritocracy. In contrast, ‘Confucian democratic perfectionism’ is a form of comprehensive Confucian perfectionism that can accommodate a plurality of values in civil society. It is also fully compatible with core values of democracy such as popular sovereignty, political equality, and the right to political participation. Sungmoon Kim presents ‘public reason Confucianism’ as the most attractive option for contemporary East Asian societies that are historically and culturally Confucian. Public reason Confucianism is a particular style of Confucian democratic perfectionism in which comprehensive Confucianism is connected with perfectionism via a distinctive form of public reason. It calls for an active role for the democratic state in promoting a Confucian conception of the good life, at the heart of which are such core Confucian values as filial piety and ritual propriety.
I am happy to announce the publication of Leigh Jenco’s new book; congratulations!
Leigh Jenco, Changing Referents: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West (Oxford University Press, 2015): 304 Pages; ISBN: 9780190263812
Globalization has brought together otherwise disparate communities with distinctive and often conflicting ways of viewing the world. Yet even as these phenomena have exposed the culturally specific character of the academic theories used to understand them, most responses to this ethnocentricity fall back on the same parochial vocabulary they critique. Against those who insist our thinking must return always to the dominant terms of Euro-American modernity, I argue and demonstrate that methods for understanding cultural others can take theoretical guidance from those very bodies of thought typically excluded by political and social theory.
Daniel Bell will join five panelists to discuss his book The China Model: Political Meritocracy and the Limits of Democracy (Princeton, 2015) at Duke University on Monday, October 19, 5-6:30pm. Details are here.