In the West, Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel is a thinker of unusual prominence. In China, he’s a phenomenon, greeted by vast crowds. China Daily reports that he has acquired a popularity “usually reserved for Hollywood movie stars.” China Newsweek declared him the “most influential foreign figure” of the year. In Sandel the Chinese have found a guide through the ethical dilemmas created by the nation’s swift embrace of a market economya guide whose communitarian ideas resonate with aspects of China’s own rich and ancient philosophical traditions.
Chinese citizens often describe a sense that, in sprinting ahead, they have bounded past whatever barriers once held back the forces of corruption and moral disregard. The market economy has lifted millions from poverty but done little to define ultimate goals for individuals or the nation. Is the market all there is? In this context, Sandel’s charismatic, interactive lecturing style, which roots moral philosophy in real-world scenarios, has found an audience struggling with questions of their responsibility to one another.
Encountering China brings together leading experts in Confucian and Daoist thought to explore the connections and tensions revealed in this unlikely episode of Chinese engagement with the West. The result is a profound examination of diverse ideas about the self, justice, community, gender, and public good. With a foreword by Evan Osnos that considers Sandel’s fame and the state of moral dialogue in China, the book will itself be a major contribution to the debates that Sandel sparks in East and West alike.
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About the Author
Michael J. Sandel is Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University.
Paul J. D’Ambrosio teaches Chinese philosophy at East China Normal University in Shanghai, China.
Table of Contents
Foreword: China's Encounter with Michael Sandel Evan Osnos vii
I Justice, Harmony, and Community
1 Community without Harmony? A Confucian Critique of Michael Sandel Chenyang Li 3
2 Individual, Family, Community, and Beyond: Some Confucian Reflections on Themes in Sandel's Justice Tongdong Bai 19
3 Justice as a Virtue, Justice according to Virtues, and / or Justice of Virtues: A Confucian Amendment to Michael Sandel's Idea of Justice Yong Huang 29
II Civic Virtue and Moral Education
4 Sandel's Ideas on Civic Virtue Zhu Huiling 69
5 Sandel's Democracy's Discontent from a Confucian Perspective Chen Lai 81
III Pluralism and Perfection: Sandel and the Daoist Tradition
6 Gender, Moral Disagreements, and Freedom: Sandel's Politics of Common Good in Chinese Contexts Robin R. Wang 99
7 Satisfaction, Genuine Pretending, and Perfection: Sandel's The Case against Perfection and Daoism Paul J. D'Ambrosio 123
IV Conceptions of the Person: Sandel and the Confucian Tradition
8 Theorizing the "Person" in Confucian Ethics Roger T. Ames 159
9 How to Think about Morality without Moral Agents Henry Rosemont Jr. 197
10 A Sandelian Response to Confucian Role Ethics Paul J. D'Ambrosio 228
V Reply by Michael Sandel
11 Learning from Chinese Philosophy Michael J. Sandel 245