Kyushu University Academic Staff Educational and Research Activities Database
List of Papers
ODwyer Richard Shaun Last modified date:2023.11.22

Professor / Faculty of Languages and Cultures

1. Shaun O'Dwyer, “On the Duty of Scholars to Aid their Persecuted Peers”. Journal of Applied Philosophy (February 2023), Journal of Applied Philosophy,, Early View, 2023.02, Global threats to academic freedom are multiplying not only in an era of authoritarian resurgence, but also – less overtly – in an era of increasingly managerial governance of higher education sectors in democratic nations, where protection of institutional revenue streams, and of institutional reputation, may take priority over protection of scholars’ and students’ academic freedoms. In such circumstances, justifications for rendering aid to at-risk scholars and students have become obscured. This article argues that the Kantian concept of imperfect duty can be adapted to theorizing collective, institutional obligations to aid those scholars and students, undertaken in light of academic freedom as a constitutive institutional value..
2. Shaun O'Dwyer, “Mohist Anti-militarism & Just War Theory”. Philosophy Now No.153 (December 2022): 38-41., Philosophy Now, 153, 38-41, 2023.01, This paper explores the anti-militarism and Just war theories of the ancient Chinese Mohist school of philosophers, which flourished in Warring States era China between the 4th-1st centuries BCE. It discusses how Mohists' consequentialist arguments against aggressive war harmonize with their limited advocacy for just war, supporting defensive war against external aggression and punitive war against tyrannical, violent states. It concludes with some reflections on partial applications of Mohist just war theory in contemporary geopolitics. .
3. Shaun O'Dwyer, “Japanese Confucianism and War”. Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture Vol.38: 15-41 (August 2022)., Journal of Confucian Philosophy and Culture, DOI:10.22916/jcpc.2022..38.15, 38, 15-41, 2022.08, It is a widely held belief that State Shinto was the main indigenous ideological driver of Japan’s descent into ultranationalism and war in the 1930s. However,
much less is known today of Japanese Confucian justifications for war in the same era. This article joins a small group of other studies researching a now
little-known educational and research association formed in 1918 by Japanese Confucian scholars and Sinologists, the Shibunkai (斯文会) which reached the
peak of its influence and patronage from Japan’s political elite in the 1930’s. This article reviews the Shibunkai’s early efforts to revive traditional Confucian
morality and promote Chinese learning, its pursuit of “Confucian Diplomacy” with the Kong family estate at Qufu in Shandong Province, and its elaboration
of a Confucian Pan-Asian doctrine that accorded Japan, with its supposed purified version of Confucianism, the role of leader and guardian of East Asia’s
spiritual and moral culture.

Last, this article analyses some of the seldom-studied war-era literature produced by Shibunkai scholars to argue that a modern Japanese “Imperial Way” Confucianism played a role in the moral legitimation of Japan’s war against China in 1937-1945. Based on its analysis of the Occidentalism and self-Orientalism in the Shibunkai’s wartime publications, the article concludes that there is a need for more critical reflection on Occidentalist and self-Orientalist trends in Confucian normative theorizing amidst the troubled geopolitical conditions of East Asia today..
4. Shaun O'Dwyer, Meritocracy and Resentment, Philosophy and Social Criticism,, 46, 9, 1146-1164, 2020.08, Lately it has become fashionable to speak of a ‘political meritocracy’ in Chinese political culture, which contrasts with the liberal ‘electoral democracy’ of the west. Here, however, I consider the moral psychology of an emotion that arguably shadows the history of meritocratic practices in China and in liberal democracies: the emotion of resentment, expressed by agents who consider themselves to be wronged by the high-stakes competition for status, income and power inherent in these practices. I examine the unstable nexus between this emotion and these practices and draw on Confucian, Qing era vernacular literature and modern studies of educational credentialism for insights into how the potentially destabilizing, destructive manifestations of resentment can be mitigated and channelled into less destructive, dissenting political and cultural expression. I argue that, on balance, electoral democracies have better resources for mitigating such resentment than does the ‘political meritocracy’ attributed to Chinese political culture.
5. Shaun O'Dwyer, Confucianism’s Prospects, Perfectionism and Liberalism, Comparative Political Theory,, 1, 1, 105-116, 2021.06, In this article, I recapitulate the main arguments of my book “Confucianism’s Prospects: a Reassessment” in response to commentators on the book. I elaborate on its capabilities approach normative perspective, its evaluation of Confucian cultural attributions to contemporary East Asian societies, its criticisms of communitarian and political perfectionist arguments for Confucian democracy, and its alternative, modest vision for Confucianism as one of many comprehensive doctrines that can find a safe home within the civil societies of East Asia’s representative democracies..
6. Shaun O'Dwyer, "Objectivity, subjectivity, and getting the meaning in intensive English reading", CamTESOL Conference on English Language Teaching: Selected Papers , 5, 175-183, 2009.06, Radical constructivist theory has had some influence in English teaching methodology, including the teaching of intensive reading. Unfortunately, its assumption that construal of textual meanings is a subjective process taking place entirely" in the learner's head" clashes with two important insights in the experience of learning intensive reading in English as a second or foreign language. The first insight is that to get meaning right in a foreign/second language text is to get it right correctly, from the point of view of the linguistic community to which a student seeks to gain admission, and that the language teacher is her first, authoritative point of contact. A second insight is that the textual meanings students learn are somehow objective, even if they do also vary through time and in accordance with authorial intention and context. This paper develops philosophical arguments to show that these insights are basically correct..
7. Shaun O'Dwyer, "The student is my customer: Useful conceptual innovation or category mistake?", English Australia , 21, 1, 52-60, 2003.06, [URL], Descriptions of students as customers or clients are now commonplace in the management language of Australian higher education and ESL institutions, largely due to the influence of Total Quality Management (TQM) theory. While this paper acknowledges a case for limited TQM implementation in ESL institutions, it finds that there are two serious difficulties in describing students as the customers of teachers. Firstly, this description is confusing and easy to misinterpret as meaning that customers should get whatever they want for their money . Secondly, it is a category mistake, inasmuch as it misrepresents the character of the student-teacher relationship under the standards appropriate to TQM s generic producer-customer description..
8. Shaun O'Dwyer, "The men of the Yamato and the paradox in conservative Japanese patriotism", 明治大学国際日本学研究, 1, 1, 127-134, 2008.06, N/A.
9. Shaun O'Dwyer, "Ibsen's Nora and the Confucian Critique of the 'Unencumbered Self'", Hypatia,, 31, 4, 890-906, 2016.09, [URL], Criticisms of the liberal‐individualist idea of the “unencumbered self” are not just a staple of communitarian thought. Some modern Confucian thinkers are now seeking to develop an ethically particular understanding of social roles in the family that is sensitive to gender‐justice issues, and that provides an alternative to liberal‐individualist conceptions of the “unencumbered self” in relation to family roles. The character of Nora in Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House seemingly exemplifies such conceptions of the unencumbered self in her rejection of her housewife role for a more authentic selfhood. Drawing upon the capabilities approach to justice, and positive early Japanese bluestockings’ responses to Ibsen's play, I argue that Nora's character is better understood as exemplifying an ethically compelling disencumbered self in potentially cross‐cultural circumstances: a self criticizing and rejecting social roles that are found to be unjust according to universal, as opposed to particularist, “Confucian” ethical standards..
10. Shaun O'Dwyer, "The Metaphysics of Existence Rehabilitated", Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 40, 4, 711-730, 2004.10, In the past forty years, scholarship on Dewey's metaphysics has swung between two interpretations. Commentators have divided on whether to understand Dewey's metaphysics as a metaphysics of existence, or as a metaphysics of experience. When Dewey declared that metaphysics inquired into" the generic traits manifested by existents of all kinds"(LW 1: 308) was he talking about traits of all existents, including those not experienced, or the traits only of experienced existents? A lot has been at stake in this matter. For some commentators, there is sufficient evidence in Dewey's thought to show that he did not affirm a metaphysics of experience-a metaphysics they see as indistinguishable from Kantian idealism. 1 For others, it is equally clear that a philosopher who had so carefully reconstructed the concept of experience and repudiated things-in-themselves would not set out to theorize existents" beyond" experience..
11. Shaun O'Dwyer, "The Uncknowledged Socrates in the Works of Luce Irigaray", Hypatia,, 21, 2, 28-44, 2006.05, In Luce Irigaray's thought, Socrates is a marginal figure compared to Plato or Hegel. However, she does identify the Socratic dialectical position as that of a ‘phallocrat’ and she does conflate Socratic and Platonic philosophy in her psychoanalytic reading of Plato in Speculum of the Other Woman. In this essay, I critically interpret both Irigaray's own texts and the Platonic dialogues in order to argue that: (1) the Socratic dialectical position is not ‘phallocratic’ by Irigaray's own understanding of the term; (2) that Socratic (early Platonic) philosophy should not be conflated with the mature Platonic metaphysics Irigaray criticizes; and (3) that Socratic dialectical method is similar in some respects with the dialectical method of Diotima, Socrates’ instructress in love and the subject of Irigaray's “Sorcerer Love” essay in An Ethics of Sexual Difference..
12. Shaun O'Dwyer, "Pragmatism and Anti-realism about the Past", Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 46, 3, 401-422, 2010.07, Recently John Dewey scholars such as David Hildebrand have made some ambitious claims about the capacity of Deweyan pragmatism to transcend the contemporary realism/anti-realism debate. I demonstrate that in one part of this debate, concerning the reality of the past, Deweyan pragmatism shares too many affinities with anti-realism to justify Hildebrand's claims. These affinities should not weaken the appeal of a pragmatist philosophy of the past (including the historical past). However, I argue that this philosophy needs to be supported by a stronger realism concerning the data from which—on the pragmatist and anti-realist understanding—the past is inferentially reconstructed..
13. Shaun O'Dwyer, "Epistemic Elitism, Paternalism and Confucian Democracy", Dao, 14, 1, 33-54, 2015.03, This paper brings a fresh, epistemic perspective to bear on prominent Confucian philosophers’ arguments for (1) a hybrid Deweyan-Confucian democracy, or (2) for an illiberal democracy with “Confucian characteristics.” Reconstructing principles for epistemic elitism and paternalism from the pre-Qin 秦 Confucian thought that inspires these advocates for Confucian democracy, it finds two major problems with their proposals. For those who abandon or modify this epistemic elitism and paternalism in accordance with (1), the result is a philosophical syncretism that is either unconvincingly Confucian or unconvincingly Deweyan. For those who retain it in accordance with (2), the result is a democratic proposal that will lack legitimacy in increasingly pluralistic East Asian societies. In the end, there is a need for thinking that appropriately synthesizes Eastern and Western philosophies in a politically changing East Asia. .
14. Shaun O'Dwyer, "The Classical Conservative Challenge to Dewey", Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society , 37, 4, 491-514, 2001.09, [URL], In the footnotes to a number of Richard Rorty's essays and books can be found references to a philosopher whom Rorty thinks highly of; Michael Oakeshott, a British philosopher who taught at the London School of Economics, and who died in 1990. Oakeshott is a formidable representative of the philosophical tradition of classical conservatism, which traces its lineage back to Edmund Burke. The conservatism I am speaking of does not always represent" right wing" political views, and it should not be confused with libertarianism. It is, moreover, really much more a product of British than of American intellectual culture. It is best described in Noel O'Sullivan's book Conservatism as a "philosophy of imperfection"(O'Sullivan 1976, pp. 11-12)..
15. Shaun O'Dwyer, "What Attitude, Exactly?", ELT Journal,, 61, 4, 372-374, 2007.10, On reading Josep M. Cots’ article ‘Teaching ‘‘with an attitude’’; Critical Discourse Analysis in EFL teaching’in volume 60/4 (Cots 2006: 336–45), two thoughts came to my mind. Firstly, the closely related theoretical approaches of CDA and critical literacy are now attracting severe criticism. Secondly, their philosophical assumptions are wide-ranging and contentious, and do not sit well with Cots’ modest suggestions for a more ‘critical attitude’in language students’ learning activities. Cots needs to explain and defend these assumptions, and show how they can apply constructively in EFL classrooms..
16. Shaun O'Dwyer, In ELT, it’s Time for Constructivists to get Real, Asian EFL Journal, 8, 4, 233-253, 2006.12, The philosophy and psychology of constructivism has become more and more influential in English language teaching, especially through the popularity of books such as Williams’ and Burden’s Psychology for Language Teachers (1997). However, so far there has not been much critical examination of constructivism in ELT. In this article I argue that the subjective and dualistic notion of reality that some constructivists espouse is incompatible with their professed experimental and social interactionist conception of English language learning. This leads them to an incoherent understanding of language classroom realities. I propose a more philosophically robust and consistent understanding of those realities to serve as a background for reflective teaching practice.
17. Shaun O'Dwyer, "John Dewey's 'Turkish Tragedy'", Holocaust and Genocide Studies,, 25, 3, 375-403, 2011.12, [URL], In the summer of 1924, American philosopher and education theorist John Dewey traveled to Turkey to advise the Turkish government on the development of a new, secular education system. Dewey later wrote five articles for the New Republic on political and educational affairs in Turkey; one of them, “The Turkish Tragedy,” alluded to the deportations and massacres of the Armenians in 1915–1916 and insinuated that alleged Armenian treachery and atrocities had provoked them. This article explains how and why this influential intellectual compromised his own high epistemic standards and morally mitigated Turkish responsibility for the Armenian Genocide..
18. Shaun O'Dwyer, The Yasukuni Shrine and the Competing Patriotic Pasts of East Asia, History and Memory, 22, 2, 147-177, 2010.10, Criticisms of Japan's controversial Yasukuni Shrine have highlighted two problems: the enshrinement there of the spirits of executed war criminals; and the distorted, patriotic war narrative presented in its war museum, the Yūshūkan. This article focuses on the second problem, while acknowledging the Yūshūkan's recent attempts to defuse it through revisions to its exhibit narrative. It undertakes some philosophical legwork to sort out the categories that the Yūshūkan narrative can be defined under: whether it is a historical narrative or something categorically distinct from that definition. Finally, it argues that even if the Yūshūkan narrative is categorically distinct from both historical and individual memory-based narratives, it is still answerable to their criticisms. This analysis is shown to have application to other national, patriotic narratives of the Asia-Pacific War in East Asia..
19. Shaun O'Dwyer, Confucian Democrats, Not Confucian Democracy, Dao,, 19, 209-229, 2020.06, The notion that if democracy is to flourish in East Asia it must be realized in ways that are compatible with East Asian’s Confucian norms or values is a staple conviction of Confucian scholarship. I suggest two reasons why it is unlikely and even undesirable for such a Confucianized democracy to emerge. First, 19th- and 20th-century modernization swept away or weakened the institutions which had transmitted Confucian practices in the past, undermining claims that there is an enduring Confucian communitarian or cultural heritage today that democratic institutions have to adapt themselves to—or that a Confucian cultural spirit can be revived. Second, 20th-century East Asian statist regimes rationalized Confucianism for national ideologies meant to bind their citizens’ loyalties to developmentalist goals. Memories of this now delegitimized, statist Confucianism have contributed to the further marginalization of Confucian norms, and to their dissociation from democratic values, in today’s pluralistic democracies in East Asia. This essay argues that a Confucian conviction politics developed within the frame of East Asia’s actually existing liberal democracies provides a better course for advocates of Confucianism in democratic politics..
20. Shaun O'Dwyer, Deflating the ‘Confucian Heritage Culture’thesis in intercultural and academic English education, Language, Culture and Curriculum,, 30, 2, 198-211, 2017.06, This paper develops an interdisciplinary critical perspective on the concept of ‘Confucian Heritage Cultures’ (CHC), used in intercultural and English language teaching theory to explain the supposed culturally distinct learning habits, expectations and schemas many Asian students bring to academic classrooms in English-speaking countries. Drawing on political scientific, historical and philosophical research, it finds that the CHC thesis has little explanatory value; it does not take into account the effects of rapid social change in Asia, or the cultural diversity within and between contemporary Asian societies, and is often based on highly reductive, essentialist understandings of Confucian traditions themselves. Teachers are well advised to consider other explanations for their students’ learning habits and expectations and for the challenges they face in academic English classrooms..
21. Shaun O'Dwyer, "Democracy and Confucian Values", published in Philosophy East and West Volume 53, Number 1, January 2003: pp.39-63. , "Philosophy East and West", N/A, 53, 1, 39-63, N/A, 2003.01, [URL], This essay considers a number of proposals for liberal political democracy in East Asian societies, and some of the critical responses such proposals have attracted from political philosophers and from East Asian intellectuals and leaders. These proposals may well be ill-suited to the distinctive traditional values of societies claiming a Confucian inheritance. Offered here instead is a pragmatist- and Confucian-inspired vision of participatory democracy in civic life that is possibly better able to address the problem of conserving and continuing these traditional values through times of economic and social change..
22. Shaun O'Dwyer, The English Teacher as Facilitator and Authority, TESL-EJ, 9, 4, URL:, 2006.06, Over the past eighty years or so, some education theorists have repudiated the notion that it is the teacher's role to act as an authority in the classroom, transmitting knowledge to students "who do not know." In English as a second or foreign language education, a notion of the teacher as "facilitator" is considered to be more compatible with students' felt needs and autonomy. This paper argues that there are epistemological flaws in prominent rejections of transmission theories of learning. Drawing on British philosopher Michael Oakeshott's distinction between technical and practical knowledge, it argues for a modified understanding of the English teacher both as an authority capable of transmitting these types of knowledge in language, and as a facilitator of cooperative language learning.