Commentary on Evanoff

- Masahiro Morioka
Integrated Arts and Sciences, Osaka Prefecture University,
Gakuencho, Sakai, Osaka 593, JAPAN

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 8 (1998), 40.

Richard Evanoff's paper, A Constructivist Approach to Intercultural Ethics is very useful for us when thinking about international ethics and cultural diversity. He thinks that our world view and value judgments are more or less determined by our cultural and historical contexts, however, "we are always free to abandon those constructions if we find, or can come up with, something that we think is better." In this sense he stays just between determinist and relativist.

I agree with him on this point, but I want to add one thing. It is not sufficient for us to "find, or can come up with, something that we think is better." In addition, we have to find the way how to realize the "better constructions" in this society full of conservative people who are hesitant to change themselves and their traditions, and sometimes strongly resist to accept those "better constructions."

Evanoff introduces a new concept, "hybrid criticism," in which we can combine the "best" from different cultural traditions, for example, self reliance from the West, and cooperation from Japan. Evanoff thinks that self-indulgence and blind conformity are dark sides of these two cultures. Evanoff's analysis is very clear, but we have to note that there are many people who do not think of "blind conformity" as the dark side of Japanese culture.

Noriyuki Ueda writes in his new book "Nihon Gata System no Shuen"(The End of the Japanese Style System)(1) an episode that he met a company employer who said that he wants 2 or 3 percentage of brilliant people and 98 percentage of normal people with blind conformity. The employer explained to Ueda that in his company most employees are expected to simply obey their boss, have no opinions or questions, and work without saying anything. In this case, the employer does not think that blind conformity is wrong.

This episode shows that a big problem remains concerning who decides what is best and what is worst. If the majority of Japanese people thinks that blind conformity is not so bad, then Evanoff's hypothesis collapses. In this case the casting board may be acquired by the majority in number and political power.

In Japanese society, even in universities, there are number of people who do not like individualism and creativity. Many of them usually keep silence in a public discussion, and then afterwards, try to maneuver secretly and powerfully against their enemies. We have to pay more attention to this kind of secret politics, which can sometimes be seen in the field of bioethics.


Noriyuki Ueda "Nihon Gata System no Shuen"(The End of the Japanese Style System) Hozokan, 1998, p.178.

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