Lecture by Professor FAN Ruiping: “The Way of Virtue: Introduction to a Chinese Culture-based Bioethics”

Sponsored by the Institute of Advanced Humanistic Studies at Peking University and the World Ethics Institute at Peking University, Professor FAN Ruiping of the City University of Hong Kong gave a lecture on Mar. 27, 2017, at Peking University, titled “The Way of Virtue: Introduction to a Chinese Culture-based Bioethics.” The lecture was chaired by Professor NI Peimin, Executive Vice Director of IAHS.  The whole lecture room was packed with people. Unable to find a seat, some stood through the entire session, which lasted for two and half hours.


Professor FAN Ruiping is Chair Professor of Bioethics and Public Policy at the City University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on Confucian bioethics, Chinese and comparative philosophy, and ethics and public policy.


Professor Fan started the lecture by explaining “why there is no such thing as universal bioethics”. According to him, universal bioethics is in fact liberal-culture-based bioethics. Professor FAN also introduced Moderate culture-based bioethics, which stays between the two extremes, absolute equality on the one hand and intolerant treatment on the other hand. Confucian moral culture is the best example of this moderate culturalism.


In addition, as Professor FAN said in the lecture: a tenable culture-based bioethics should meet four conditions: it must be nationally relevant, politically legitimate, historically reasonable, and ethically justifiable. Professor FAN used two prominent issues in international bioethics to illustrate the prospect of Chinese culture-based bioethics. The first one is about medical decision making– shall we turn to principlism or maintain a virtue-centered ritualism . The second issue isthe so-called a right to VSED (voluntarily stopping eating and drinking). Professor FAN posed a question to the audience, should we build a virtue-oriented Confucian conception of rights or simply embrace an interest-based liberal conception of rights to direct our practice? At the last part of the lecture, Professor FAN indicated that the Chinese culture-based bioethics is more reasonable in the context of Chinese reality in contrast with liberal individualist bioethics.


The lecture came to a conclusion after Professor FAN answered many  questions from the audience in detail.