A Comparative Study of Moral Education Paradigms: Chinese Marxism and Kohlbergian Liberalism

Dissertation, Indiana University (1994)

Limin Bao
Zhejiang University
This essay attempts to understand, evaluate, and improve two major kinds of moral education paradigms in the modern East and West, through a comparative study perspective. The vision of this essay differs from either simple, harsh condemnation or uncritical acceptance. First, it tries to make sense of what Chinese Marxism and Kohlbergian Liberalism have been doing, re-constructing the former as a two "type" norm system with a special virtue fostering method, and the latter as a value education project built around a version of liberalism. In discussing questions of theoretical ethics, I have worked out a four horizon scheme of moral content which is a synthesis of judicial, ethical, moral, and religious levels; and a two order value theory. Then I use these theoretical tools to analyze the idiosyncratic features of Chinese Marxism and Kohlbergian Liberalism. The essay further moves to the broader framework, and explores the different human ontologies, social cosmologies, and cultural backgrounds underlying the two projects. Finally, I evaluate the merits and defects of the two moral education paradigms according to a set of criteria argued in a systematic fashion, including the essential tension, equilibrium, heterogenous co-existence, time-sensitivity with logical adequacy, and cost calculation. Our analytical, comparative research enables us to point out the need and the way of mutual understanding and tolerance between the two value paradigms, and the necessary corrections particular to each moral education paradigm, the basic spirit of which, however, turns out to be the same: to restore the lacking several kinds of essential tensions
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