Academic Papers & Books

Presentations on the Japanese moral philosophy at the symposium of morality and social responsibility, in Boston University

(1) 3 professors of Reitaku University spoke at Boston University

     On April 5 (Thurs), The author (President of Reitaku University), professor Syujiro Mizuno from the Faculty of Foreign Studies and professor Peter Luff were invited as main speakers to the symposium titled “The Ethics of Global Competence” held by the Center for Character and Social Responsibility, a division of the School of Education at Boston University and each made a presentation. From Boston University’s end, Dean Hardin Coleman, Dr. Karen Bohlin (discussant), who is a co-author and co-editor of the book mentioned, and Dr. Bernice Lerner made presentations. Dr. Kevin Ryan was also present with his wife and they listened attentively to the presentations.

     This event was held in commemoration of the publication of the initiatory book for general American readers, “Happiness and Virtue beyond East and West – Toward a New Global Responsibility” (2012; TUTTLE Publication), which is a product of the collaborative project by the abovementioned center of Boston University and the Center for Moral Science and Education of Reitaku University. So Boston University kindly offered a place for the symposium to present the result of this collaborative work to a wide range of people. Indeed, almost all the seats were filled by participants such as teachers, students, lawyers and accountants.

 click here for the program of the symposium

After each presentation, there was an active question-and-answer session. For example, Dean Hardin Coleman, the chairperson, asked a practical question on how we should think of the social responsibility that higher educational institutions assume. We answered that “in this age of globalization, the social responsibility that higher educational institutions assume must be equipped with international validity and have the quality in which the entire university systematically works on problems” and gave a specific example about our practice in Reitaku, saying that “we have adopted ISO26000, which is an international guidance on social responsibility, ahead of many other university around the world.”

President Nakayama

the audience giving undivided attention

With Dean Hardin Coleman, Dr. Karen Bohlin, Dr. Bernice Lerner

Dean Coleman with a serious look on his face

Professor Syujiro Mizuno

Professor Peter Luff

*A report posted on the HP of the Center for Character and Social Responsibility, Boston University

(2) Visiting a home filled with family love
The next day, we flew from Boston to Syracuse in a light helicopter to visit the house of professor Thomas Lickona, who is an eminent expert in developmental psychology and pedagogy. He kindly contributed a splendid preface to our book, and moreover he generously donated the manuscript fees for the relief of the Great East Japan Earthquake. So we visited his house located in the quiet neighborhood of Cortland, taking this occasion to express our gratitude for his kind deeds.

At professor Lickona’s house

We were welcomed by professor Lickona, his wife Mrs. Judy Lickona, and their two granddaughters. We received such warm reception that we almost forgot our travel fatigue. We heartily enjoyed the wonderful meal that Mrs. Likona had prepared for us and we could also see a pious and virtuous Christian life when they started meals by saying grace. Professor Lickona told us that he read aloud our book to his granddaughters and they discussed the contents. He gladly agreed that he will continue cooperating with Reitaku University in studies in school education and moral practice, and mutual exchange.

(3) Keenly discussing ethics education
On April 7 (Sat), we then flew from Syracuse to Washington to visit professor Tom Beauchamp, who is a professor of philosophy at Georgetown University and a Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. Professor Mizuno and I talked with him. We first gave him a copy of our book and explained to him the significance of the symposium. Then we all entered into a discussion beyond that subject, ranging from religious and philosophical problems in ethics education, the localization of religions, problems of justice and rights that are bearing growing importance in modern ethics, recognition of common grounds in ethics and morality, the necessity of moral education in medical ethics, to the limitation in Communitarianism that Mr. Sandel advocates. We discussed such topics without stopping and 90 minutes had passed before we know.

The following is professor Mizuno’s report on the visit

With professor Beauchamp

Professor Tom Beauchamp and president Nakayama had a talk and Mizuno (the author) also sat with them. Professor Beauchamp’s Ethics Education deals with philosophy, instead of religion, and provides three courses (undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral). He understands that religion – whichever it may be – is essentially something local, not universal. Therefore, his lectures on ethics have, as their basis, philosophical perspectives.

There are many common phenomena in ethics around the world, many that we human beings have in common irrespective of culture. This is seen in the fact that, as the history of the development of medicine shows, any country has followed the same path in such developments. His courses teach that while it is true that there are many differences within one particular culture, there are, again, many that we have in common.

There seems to be a prospect of research collaboration between the Research Center for Moral Science and some other research institutions. Professor Beauchamp pointed out to us that the example of Johns Hopkins University is instructive for the most advanced ethics education.

What he told us was very eye-opening and made me aware of the necessity to discuss ethics and morality in the common language. Also, I came to believe that a truly meaningful study involves the reconstruction of moral education through the virtues we dealt with in “Happiness and Virtue” and of moral meanings through narrative.

Professor Beauchamp told us that he is scheduled to come to Japan in mid. May and hopes to visit Reitaku University on that occasion.



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