Tradition and Transformation—Changing Ethics in the the Age of Globalization: Prof. Yao Xinzhong

Traditional ethics, as championed by Confucianism, have been and continue to undergo a dramatic transformation in contemporary China. This ethical transformation in the age of globalization is characterized by two new features that emerge from the rapid social, economic and cultural changes over the past three decades: (1) the coexistence of the pre-modern, modern and post-modern values, and (2) the interaction between the Chinese and non-Chinese (Western) ideas and ideals. By this research project we seek to gain an advanced understanding of traditional ethics and its modern transformation and to assess critically the impact of globalization on contemporary Chinese ethics and values. In the research we enquire by what criteria the worth of traditional ethics may be assessed in areas such as the self, gender, family, employment, consumption, enterprise, religion and governance, and how ethical changes affect people’s perception of and attitude toward personal and collective virtues and responsibilities. We will look at how different voices in contemporary China and beyond are envisioning and debating about traditional ethics and their modern transformation, aiming to form our own understandings and evaluations of the role of the ethical complex in a rapidly changing society.