Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Confucian Virtue Now Law

If you are teaching World 9 this summer or next fall, your kids might enjoy this NY Times article about the legalization of filial piety in China. Filial piety is a key Confucian virtue and, according to the Times, the Chinese enacted a law this week "aimed at compelling adult children to visit their aging parents."  It even urges companies to give employees time to visit their parents or send them greetings.

The new Chinese law updates the original folktales about respecting one's elders called "The 24 Paragons of Filial Piety" with a modern twist--buy your parents health insurance and teach them how to use the internet. Thanks to Melissa Seideman for tweeting the link.

1 comment:

Dr. Worden said...

Law is ill-equipped to form a virtuous people. It is one thing to outlaw vice in its outward manifestation of conduct; how can legislation mandate virtuous conduct, or even instill virtue within a human soul? Mandating virtuous conduct, such as in Massachusetts’ “Good Samaritan” law, may be possible where the conduct is in public and thus readily enforceable. Virtue within the home is far more difficult for the law to reach and thus foster. Even vice behind closed doors, such as incest as well as physical and emotional abuse more generally, is difficult for police to catch. To an extent, property rights enable such vice and allow people the option of not being virtuous in a family context. Yet in countries in which an authoritarian state trumps even property rights, as in China, the question becomes whether legislation is the sort of thing that can foster or mandate virtuous conduct and even a virtuous character. See “China: Mandating the Virtue of Filial Piety by Law,” at