Commentary

- Masahiro Morioka

International Research Center for Japanese Studies 3-2 Oeyama-cho, Goryo, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto 610-11, JAPAN


Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 5 (1995), 33.

Becker's argument is a very impressive one. I believe this paper succeeds in providing us the basis for our future discussions on international bioethics or cross-cultural bioethics. Becker pointed out a number of important points that should be scrutinized in the field of international bioethics, and finally concluded that the tension between universalist ethics and local ethos-ethics "should be accepted and seen as a chance rather than a threat."

I agree with him on this point. Some people in Japan say we should have Asian bioethics because Asian people have different cultural backgrounds and value systems from those of "the" West. Such arguments usually stress that "the" Asian ethics has been and is different from "the" West, so that a new ethics concerning contemporary science and technology must be based on "our" traditional ethical systems. However, Japanese ethics, for example, has been constructed in the process of mixing ancient animistic cultures, foreign Buddhist ethics, Chinese value systems, the European Christian world-views, and modern scientific world-views for more than the two thousand history of Japan. Any tribal ethical system is formed as the result of interactions with foreign people and cultures.

And in one culture we can see a mosaic or layers of various components of habits, rules, and moral views; most of them were created by interactions with foreign influences. We have diversity in our own culture. We have diversity and conflicts even within ourselves as individuals. We are not morally consistent beings. We have opposite moral standards and value systems just in our own minds. Hence, I believe the important thing is not to stress the supremacy of "our" cultural traditions, but to seek to have fruitful "interactions" with other cultures and forms of life, and as a result, to change ourselves into a more mature state of being. Becker's paper serves as an important step toward this end. I look forward to further discussion of his paper in forthcoming issues.


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