Article Title



Sen Pei

Abstract 摘要

In this essay, I begin by addressing H. Tristram Engelhardt’s argument of the breakdown of the traditional consensus on moral and religious good. Engelhardt maintains that in the post-modern age, the possibility of constructing a full account of human good is almost impossible. People from different groups and communities engage with one another as moral strangers who need to negotiate moral arrangements. These negotiations are governed by the principle of autonomy, or the “principle of permission.” I contend that Engelhardt’s argument is also relevant in China, although from a different perspective. The traditional distinctions used to distinguish moral categories in the West very often do not fit into the context of Chinese tradition. I propose that we need to go back to our own cultural heritage, such as Confucianism, to deal with the problem of diversity and moral relativism in China, rather than being confined to a rationalized form of universal principles. Although Confucian moral judgment sometimes tends to be intuitive, it makes more sense when we are confronting specific moral dilemmas. Any moral principle, when compared with other moral principles, needs to be weighed and balanced in determining the optimal course of action.