In the most recent issue of the Journal of Moral Education (45:2), Michael Slote published “Moral Self-Cultivation East and West: A Critique.” Here is the abstract:
Moral Self-Cultivation plays an important, even a central role, in the
Confucian philosophical tradition, but philosophers in the West, most
notably Aristotle and Kant, also hold that moral self-cultivation or
self-shaping is possible and morally imperative. This paper argues that
these traditions are psychologically unrealistic in what they say about
the possibilities of moral self-cultivation. We cannot shape ourselves
in the substantial and overall ways that Confucianism, Aristotle, and
Kant say we can, and our best psychological data on moral education
and development indicate strongly that these phenomena depend
crucially on the intervention of others and, more generally, on external
factors individuals don’t control.
I would be very interested in hearing thoughts in response to this argument. If anyone does not have access to the article and would like a copy, please contact me via email.