Philosophers are paying increasing attention to the implications of technology. While technologies have always transformed the way we live, the speed of technological change in recent decades has made this more acute than ever. For philosophers, new technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and social media raise important ethical issues that are difficult to answer. To date, much of this discussion has taken place within the context of Anglo-American and European philosophy. Yet these technologies are impacting every society around the world.
As the editors Pak-Hang WONG and Tom Xiaowei WANG explain in their Introduction, what is needed is a “multicultural turn” (3) that investigates how technologies are both affecting and affected by ethical beliefs. In their anthology, Wong and Wang have edited the first book-length collection of essays in English on Confucian ethics and technology.
Why Confucianism? Alongside Buddhism and Daoism, Confucianism is a cornerstone of ethical values in the cultures of East and Southeast Asia. Wang and Wong point out that recent Chinese policy on technology governance appears framed in terms of Confucian ideas such as “harmony” and the “wellbeing of humanity” (4). In addition, many countries with Confucian-based cultures are turning to emerging technologies as a solution to social challenges. Is this a reflection of their Confucian roots? Or does it in fact go against important Confucian virtues like filial piety? These are questions a Confucian ethics of technology should be able to answer.
Author(s): Billy Wheeler
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