Abstract 摘要

Although increasingly more scholars are realizing the significance of Confucian intellectual and moral resources to bioethics in China, the phrase “Confucian bioethics” remains controversial today. What is Confucian ethics? Is there such a thing? Is it even possible? The debate on bioethics has gone global due to a rapid growth in biotechnology and life sciences that impact people all over the world, and there is heightened demand for understanding the many associated issues from various socio-cultural and philosophic-ethical perspectives. Yet some people argue that current bioethical considerations should be couched in terms of “universal principles” that render a specifically Chinese or Confucian bioethics irrelevant. What that position ignores is the importance of cultural context in determining how such principles should be understood and implemented. This essay argues there are elements in bioethics that require it clearly to be Chinese (and Confucian). It pointsout that Confucian ethics should be reconstructed and based on a life-world in which Confucianism is a lived tradition rather than a piece of art exhibited in a museum. From a contemporary perspective, the Confucian way of living is a new form of creation, meeting the challenge of modernity and postmodernity in terms of ethics in general and bioethics in particular. The essay also addresses issues concerning the methodology, structure, and direction needed for the creation of a Confucian bioethics.