Towards a Cross-Cultural Ethical Framework

Textbook piracy in China is rampant and out of control, and forces many educators into a terrible ethical dilemma of how to handle curriculum. However, as an educator in a cross-cultural environment approaching the task of handling this ethical issue is delicate and requires a strong moral conviction as well as a healthy, cross-cultural ethical framework. In this essay I introduce the CCEF (cross-cultural ethical framework) and review the methodology through literature and on a casuistic basis, using the example of textbook piracy as a mediator in discussion. The CCEF is a five level, 11-step process of identifying ethical foundations and the applying those through culture, faith, and personal beliefs, so as to come to a distinct understanding on how to handle dilemmas across culture. The CCEF is fundamentally Christian, with strong foundations in faith, the purpose of faith, and serving other.

 In my own experience, cross-cultural work is a double-edged sword. Cross-cultural work enthralls the soul with mystery, investigating the boundary line between the known and the unknown but at the same time poses a danger to ethical systems. The ethical danger in cross-cultural work straddles the divide between maintaining a strong moral foundation and allowing that foundation to falter with the influx of new, untested but necessary elements found in foreign worldviews. No one ethical system is perfect. In the United States the desire for independence warps the familial relationship between child and parent to that of a friends, or at worst acquaintances (Jekielek & Brown, 2005). In China the emphasis on family degrades the strength between neighbors, as care and love should only be given to blood relatives and once exhausted then the community (Xu, 2007).

When someone works in a cross-cultural system and a conflict between worldviews occur (whether those system are between the United States, China, or elsewhere) that person must decide which worldview is ethically sound and what action to take, a reaction that profoundly affects that person’s relationship with his or her own moral compass. In order to function wholly in a cross-cultural setting, I propose the following model, my own personal framework of cross-cultural ethics. After reviewing current literature and forcing myself to apply ethics to a cultural dilemma I faced in China, I developed this personal framework of cross-cultural ethics which I believe will be helpful to anyone working in a foreign culture.

Cross-Cultural Ethical Framework

Description. The Cross-Cultural Ethical Framework (CCEF) divides into five levels (see Table 1) Level 1 focuses on the ethical dilemma or issue, both as a local phenomenon and as a global ethic. Level 2 responds to human behavior, as culture defines the acceptable modus operandi for societal acceptance (Martin & Siehl, 1983), while morality defines personal standards of behavior (Chiu et al., 1997). Level 3 corresponds to faith (although I refer to Christian faith), as James states when referring to the law of God: “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom… will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:23, New International Version). Along with the “perfect law” however, is grace: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13, New International Version). While it may be possible for an ethical judgment to be influenced by human systems of law, in the CCEF human systems of law are based in Level 2, within the sub-section of culture (for the sake of the model).

Global dilemma Level 1 – Dilemma
Local dilemma
Culture Level 2 – Behavior
Law Level 3 – Faith
Love Level 4 – Action
Authenticity Level 5 – Purpose & Foundation



Table 1: Levels of the CCEF model

Level 4 is a call to action. In the passage immediately following Colossians 3:13, Paul states: “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14, New International Version). Love in this way acts as an essential key to the unity of global worldviews, local dilemmas, cultural understanding, moral guidance, holy law, and grace to others, as love is a cause for accomplishing those abstract and invisible functions through ethical action in a practical fashion.

Level 5 is base of undergirding principles which an ethical agent must agree to in order to rationally make decisions for the betterment of his or her situation. The three principles of authenticity, integrity, and responsibility are interlinked with each other through the concept of telos, stemming from teleology (grand purpose or final cause). However, this model is not linear as the table supposes, but rather non-linear, with the dilemma focused at the center of Levels 1-4, supported by healthy principles from Level 5. The key to this model is Level 4: the act of love, the “perfect unity.”

I distinguished the various levels at the beginning of this paper, as in further discussion I will break down each element of the ethical framework, specifically in terms of literature and application. However, understanding how the CCEF operates as a level-based system is imperative to application and recognition, as without a basic structure the elements in themselves are just good principles but not worthy of application as a personal ethical framework.

Breakdown and Application to Case Study

Background of case study. Before I break down the CCEF, a short introduction to the ethical dilemma presented in this paper is needed. While cross-cultural ethical models do exist (see Wines & Napier, 1992), these theories are fundamentally theoretical rather than practical and are focused on utilitarian benefits of doing business in foreign countries rather than as a personal model of ethical behavior when approaching specific dilemmas. Wines and Napier argue that due to the theoretical nature of ethical models, “a useful model should address more than one level of values” (p. 837). Other cross-cultural models are significantly dichotomous and fallacious in the assumption culture is divided between individualism and collectivism (Robertson & Fadil, 1999), when in fact culture is a continuum (Adeney, 1995), not a polarity. Therefore, application of CCEF as a level-based exploration into the continuum of culture in regards to Chinese textbook piracy will be discussed below.

As early as 2004 (two years after China joined the World Trade Organization) western media outlets began to discover and report on the existence of Chinese textbook piracy. Media critics learned that from a young age many Chinese students had a significant lack of education regarding copyright law due to copying being counted as an academic achievement, and by the time those students had entered university, “copying of published papers [was] widespread among university students” (“Experts question”, 2004). In my own experience, not only is textbook piracy a reality, but a justified principle and sometimes inalienable right for many students at my university (a prominent Chinese University). Therefore, the approach to this topic must be done with delicacy and care, in order to fully understand the logical underpinnings behind such a mass delusion and know how to respond in a loving fashion.

While a lot of media attention has played on China’s lack of ability to police piracy, only a few articles have been published in western media outlets regarding textbook piracy. In 2004, the journal Chronicle of Higher Education published an article written by Jen Liu-Lin and Burton Bollag exposing the internal problems of textbook piracy in China including the 2001 shutdown of the state-owned publisher Guanghua which was pirating academic financial journals. In 2006, China’s Ministry of Education officially called universities to stop photocopying textbooks, notably foreign textbooks, and then called for a comprehensive investigation (Mooney, 2006). Then in 2009, the Anti-Illegal Publications Office seized more than 4 million pirated teaching materials, shutting down 182 print shops, and closing over 100,000 illegal textbook shops (“Pirated teaching materials,” 2009, September 19). However, as a government priority textbook copyright protection in China does not seem to be high on the list, with only three publicly announced initiatives.

Part of the problems relating to textbook piracy in China is due to the organizational structure of publishing houses in China. Most university presses in China only have at most three employees (Lin-Liu & Bollag, 2004), and only 12.27% of Chinese publishers surveyed by Wang (2009) actually have a separate office for staff involved in protecting copyright, while 84.05% of Chinese publishers combine the task of protecting copyright within the normal duties of the editorial staff.

The CCEF (see Figure 1) will be applied to the issue of textbook piracy through a step-by-step process. I will narrate the step-by-step process through the usage of the pronoun, “I,” although other pronouns may be substituted if one wishes when reading the following process.



Figure 1: CCEF model

Level 1: The dilemma. Before I can approach an ethical dilemma, I must first clearly understand the prevalent view regarding the issue as a global problem, regardless of culture. Hume argued, “But when he bestows on any man the epithets of vicious or odious or depraved, he then speaks another language, and expresses sentiments in which, he expects, all his audience are to concur with him. He must here therefore depart from his private and particular situation, and must choose a point of view common to him with others” (1975). The important phrase in Hume’s argument is another language, the language which is necessary to understand before any relevant judgments can be made about culture. Blackburn (2001) believes that speaking a common language is possible, especially when related to deontological ethics. According to Blackburn, when analyzing Kant’s categorical imperative, the “other language” or “universalization test” (as Blackburn puts it) “become[s] not only a particular argument within ethics . . . but the indispensable basis for ethics” (p. 117). Wilkens (1995) relates how “certain standards of truth . . . have been the North Star which I have checked each approach” (p. 191), guiding him to right decisions about ethical dilemmas.

However, back in 1924, F.H. Allport stated “that people often assume that others are responding in a given situation in the same way as they and imagine that their own response is universal,” identifying the illusion of universality. Therefore when approaching an ethical dilemma I must also consider the individual, local approach. The theory of cognitive dissonance, proposed by Goethels, Messick, and Allison (1991), states that as individuals generate knowledge they naturally justify their actions according to that knowledge, meaning that before people perceive of another language (or a common view) they have already made a determination based on the current situation in which they find themselves. So while I do need to be aware of the universal view, I must also take into consideration how the local situation affects the dilemma. One key method for determining the dissonance between the global and the local is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

Picture men dwelling in a sort of subterranean cavern with a long entrance open to the light on its entire width. Conceive them as having their legs and necks fettered from childhood, so that they remain in the same spot, able to look forward only, and prevented by the fetters from turning their heads. Picture further the light from a fire burning higher up and at a distance behind them, and between the fire and the prisoners and above them a road along which a low wall has been built. . . . See also, then, men carrying past the wall implements of all kinds that rise above the wall, and human images and shapes of animals as well, wrought in stone and wood and every material, some of these bearers presumably speaking and others silent.” (Republic 514a-515a)

Plato then inquires, “Do you think that these men would have seen anything of themselves or of one another except the shadows cast from the fire on the wall of the cave that fronted them?” (Republic 515a) As I operate in a different culture, I am tempted to stand on the road in the cave overlooking the men shackled in chains below me and judge them, as they only see the shadows in front of them and I can see further and with more clarity because I have a torch and they do not. Herodotus (Histories 3:38) proclaimed that King Cambyses was “completely mad” for not respecting the religious rites of a culture he visited, but rather mocking and deriding it. Herodotus goes on to relate how King Darius of Persia summoned a group of men from two different cultures in order to ascertain whether it was proper to eat one’s ancestors or burn one’s ancestors, to which they both cried out in horror. Therefore I have to conclude I would be “completely mad” to not take into consideration the world under the road in the shadows of Plato’s cave.

Application of level 1 to case study. According to Lee (2007), the average price of an economics textbook in the United States is somewhere between the range of $24.4 and $45.7, which in Chinese currency translates as ¥151 and ¥283. From my own research, the price range of pirated textbooks from a copy shop in my university ranges from ¥10 to ¥30, a 89% → 94% discount off the cover price. However, most Chinese textbooks range between ¥30 → ¥50, a much more suitable number for a Chinese student who pays ¥3.5 for lunch and ¥110 for unlimited international internet each month (to put the numbers into perspective).

Tsinghua University Press, the sister university to my university (and across the street) reported back in 2004 having lost 20% of its profits due to piracy (Lin-Liu & Bollag, 2004). According to the average cost of a Chinese textbook (¥30 → ¥50) and the price students pay in a copy shop (¥10 → ¥30), those numbers average around 20%. What is amazing, however, is that even with such low prices for Chinese textbooks ($4.76 → $7.90) students still prefer a pirated copy to the real textbook, saving them only $3.17 while feeling absolutely justified.

Su, Lu, and Lin (2011) describe this phenomenon as the difference between cost and benefit: as a cost, students only concern for textbooks are whether or not they will be prosecuted, and whether or not they will save money. If there is no implemented justice system, and the price for a pirated textbook eases the pocketbook, then it follows a large proportion of students will believe no one is concerned and therefore there is no danger. Before I can clearly delineate a plan of action in how as a teacher I respond to the matter, I must take this into account. In 2001, western academic journals reported having lost over $150 million to piracy in China alone, exempting other educational publishers (Liu-Lin & Bollag, 2004). So while piracy is a problem, I must ground myself in realities first.

Level 2: Behavior. If I could make one statement which I was absolutely sure of, I would say that there is not one culture that is the same as another. Wilkens (1995) claims that “ethics can be done only on a casuistic (case study) basis” (p. 139). If ethics can only be done on a case-by-case basis, then by far the strongest delineation of difference among cases would be a culture. While I may believe that my culture has higher standards of other cultures, how I act on that when I interact with people from other cultures takes precedent. Melville Herskovits (1972) spoke about the self-importance of one’s culture (also known as ethnocentrism) when exerted only humbly as “a gentle insistence on the good qualities of one’s own group, without any drive to extend this attitude into the field of action,” however when the drive to extend that attitude into action occurs, my condemnation is both not understood and not respected. The concepts of coherent and absolute knowledge distinguish between context and ontological reality (Lindbleck, 1984), meaning that regardless the culture, each culture will have different coherent knowledge, resulting in incoherent views (Adeney, 1995) and a distortion of how I even represent my ontological views.

Adeney (1995) continues by stating that the stages of inculturation exist within a continuum rather than a specific categorical truth, meaning that culture in itself is an act of growth, a living knowledge that evolves, shifts, and transforms individuals differently depending on time and place. As I move through the process of inculturation, “a ‘third-culture perspective’ is possible only through a synthesis of cultural values achieved through reidentification [sic] with both cultures” (p. 73). I must remember that as I go through this process “different communities and different cultures have different conceptions of justice, because they have different histories, different social structures and different conflicts” (p. 109).

While culture defines how a societal behaves, morals dictate how an individual behaves. My moral compass determines how I react to situations both good and ill, and therefore the study of morality is intrinsically personal. Aristotle states that “action must proceed from a firm and unchangeable character” (Nichomachean Ethics 1105a), meaning that at the root, my character is what defines my goodness; if I gave good character my actions will be good, while if I have bad character my actions will be bad. In Joseph Conrad’s novel Typhoon, the captain MacWhirr shows “us that moral leadership can draw on the depths of our lives, on something deep down within heart and mind, something real and important to us that is reflexive rather than necessarily related to the easy come, easy go of the intellect’s habits” (Coles, 2000, p. 50). In this way, I come back to Aristotle’s understanding of a virtuous life being inter-related with the concept of eudaimonia and a complete life: “For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy” (1098a).

I can be a man of Character with a capital “c” and yet still be empty. Who am I without a source to draw upon when I am empty and wasted? While the vast experience and joy in my life may sometimes inspire me, I am left alone with myself at the end of the day facing the darkness of my personal tragedies. When Coles (2000) narrates the life of a young girl living in dire conditions during the height of the racial conflicts in Boston and her relationship to God, he relates how “the notion that God is a moral companion of sorts to us, that He observes us and comes to conclusions about our episodes of wrongdoing, no matter our claims, excuses, self-justifications” (p. 222). As the little girl associates God as a moral companion with her conscience, so does the journalist and saint Dorothy Day: “I speak to the Lord, through prayer, and I speak to my conscience . . . I hope with the Lord’s will in mind, not just our own” (p. 192). In this way, a deep part of my morality is joined with my perception that God is walking with me through the travails of my life, through which I draw strength, attitude, and joy, allowing me to draw what Coles calls moral passion, a “passion within oneself, [to] set it in motion among others, and do so resourcefully, pointedly” (p. 192), and through that transform the dilemma from a tragedy to an opportunity.

Application of level 2 to case study. On September 23rd, 2011, the United States Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made a startling statement about China. He claimed that the Chinese “have made [emphasis mine] possible systematic stealing of intellectual property by American companies” (Martina, 2011), inferring that theft and stealing was an intention in China’s fundamental design behind the protection of intellectual liberties. As a statement belittling and envenoming another culture, Geithner’s claim is mind-boggling for a United States diplomat in the 21st century. Nevertheless, his claim is understandable, as in 2009 the United States lost an estimated $48 billion due to piracy in China, according to the International Trade Commission (Martina, 2011), which accounts for nearly 18% of the total trade deficit the United States currently has with China.

For years now, Chinese publishers have had systems for detecting and prosecuting piracy. Almost 22% of Chinese publishers have a public face to their copyright departments, and 27% of Chinese publishers use a piracy hotline for suspected infringements to be called in (Wang, 2009). According to Long Zhenshan, the head of Tsinghua University Press’s copyright division, publishers “don’t have the resources to go out and investigate ourselves” (Lin-Liu & Bollag, 2004), and so they rely mostly on outsiders (informants) calling the publisher is a copyright infringement has been found.

When a system is as entrenched, established, and unknown as the system Chinese publishers have for enforcing piracy, how can I as an educator and a moral individual fight it? The system in China has become so deeply embedded into university culture that even students of mine who consider themselves to be highly moral, upright, and trying their best to follow in the Confucian ethical system, still purchase pirated textbooks. Primarily, this is due to education. I discovered this semester that when I approached students and asked them if a copied textbook for a course was still in print, they returned blank stares and then innocently asked, “Do you think this book is illegal?” When I shrugged and told them, “Maybe,” they breathed in sharply with visible lines of concern etched on their faces. As much as I would like to comfort them that they did not break any laws by submitting to the will of their professors, those few seconds from an authority asking them a simple question sparked the creation of a struggle with a giant ethical dilemma they perhaps did not even realize they had. By educating students about the international laws of copyright, enforcing those laws in class through deliberate decisions in choices of text, and personally holding a student ethically accountable (not necessarily legally) educators such as myself can make a huge impact with this issue right on the front lines of battle: the classroom.

Level 3: Faith. In the Bible, there is a significant correlation between the grace given to me from above and the grace I give to others being in perfect relationship: “ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:12, New International Version). Within both the Old Testament and the New Testament God’s grace is made evident (Augsburger, 1986), making grace an indelible part of God’s character. Aquinas argues: “The material sun sheds its light outside us; but the intelligible Sun, Who is God, shines within us. Hence the natural light bestowed upon the soul is God’s enlightenment, whereby we are enlightened to see what pertains to natural knowledge; and for this there is required no further knowledge, but only for such things as surpass natural knowledge” (Summa Theologiae I-II.109, a. 1, ad. 2.). By being filled with God’s light, I am in fact filled with God’s grace, spilling out of me through the act of forgiveness to others. Morality, according to Adeney (1995), “is fundamentally seen as a response to God’s grace in choosing, liberating, blessing, forgiving, and judging us . . . if we really are free, then we must live in the true freedom of obedience” (p. 97).

My understanding of Christian law is found through two avenues: the natural law ordered by God since the beginning of time, and the Decalogue. Based on these two sides of law, nature and order, I find a place when planning out a structure of action. Natural moral law finds root in Romans 1:19-20, which states: “Since what may be known about God is plain to them [men who suppress the truth], because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (New International Version). However as Rogers (1998) says of Aquinas in that “the Gentiles had detained the natural knowledge of God in unrighteousness” (257), so human law while based in the natural law of God has been fundamentally warped, yet there is still a figment of that law present in any system of law.

Therefore, there are two basic precepts apparent to me: that the law in which I operate in cross-culturally must be respected due to its inspiration from natural law, but that the law of God (the Decalogue) takes priority, as a divinely spoken and given set of laws for guidance. Given that the Decalogue was written as a moment of time, however, Fletcher (1967) argues that “situation ethics has good reason to hold it [the Decalogue] as a duty in some situations to break them . . . any or all of them. We would be better to drop the legalist’s love of law, and accept only the law of love” (p. 74). Fletcher is not arguing that the Ten Commandments don’t hold sway today, but that they should be viewed through the Second Great Commandment, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, New International Version). We are bound to the meaning of the law (Adeney, 1995), not necessarily the specific cultural imperatives.

However, are there laws that cannot ever be broken, regardless of culture or creed? Adeney (1995) argues that prima facie rules “ought to be absolutes in all cultures and all times” (p. 153). Kant (2005) states explicitly that in the practical or real world, human-based laws which emphasize freedom and justice contradict natural law, meaning that those prima facie rules would not necessarily be specifically present in human-based laws, as rules that were absolutes would have to spring from natural law, not human law. Therefore, according to Kant’s Categorical Imperative which states that “my maxim should become a universal law” (p. 63), my maxims must come from God and from God’s natural law, not from human-created systems of law, even as I respect or admire those “inspired laws”.

Application of level 3 to case study. One of the biggest issues with Chinese textbook piracy are the educators of Chinese students, specifically the teachers. Lin-Liu and Bollag (2004) reported that a pirated textbook saleswoman named Wang sold over 500 books to a teacher who came down to Beijing from Shandong (a nearby province), claiming in her interview that “business was not bad.” Not bad, indeed. For many of my students, being handed a textbook in class by the teacher warrants no cause for suspicion. “Most of the piracy is committed by either administrators or professors within the university who photocopy textbooks, or by professional pirates who sell unauthorized copies to university officials, who may or may not know that the books are pirated” (Lin-Liu & Bollag, 2004). Even though the rules set by the Ministry of Education explicitly restrict universities from using pirated textbooks, administrators and teachers continue the practice, either out of lack of funds for the real textbook or just for the profit. With Gary Locke as the new ambassador to China from the United States, the issue of Chinese piracy has grown to such heights as to “put the defense of U.S. Intellectual property among his chief priorities [emphasis mine]” (Martina, 2011).

As an educator myself, I take into my ethical account several statements from the Decalogue: the eighth commandment reads: “You shall not steal,” and the ninth reads: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:15-16, New International Version). The concept of stealing and showing false testimony means (through applying the meaning of the law) that copying intellectual property regardless of the situation without asking or giving credit and without following the proper structures of cultural law is unethical, and lying to my students under the pretense of righteousness about where and how those materials were acquired would also be unethical. However to judge my students for their collaboration with the educational system through the act of piracy requires grace and more importantly forgiveness, meaning that were I not to forgive them these behaviors there would be no reason for myself to be forgiven for other behaviors I may or may not be complicit in. As an educator, my job is not to judge nor even to exact justice, but rather… to educate.

Level 4: Action. If the second Great Commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, New International Version), then how can this love be achieved? Love has been expressed in popular culture as an emotion, but equally as an active agent of change. “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18, New International Version). Fletcher (1967) further defines this particular kind of love expressed within 1 John:

Christian situation ethics has only one norm or principle or law (call it what you will) that is binding and unexceptionable, always good and right regardless of the circumstances. That is “love” – the agapē of the summary commandment to love God and the neighbor. Everything else without exception, all laws and rules and principles and ideals and norms, are only contingent, only valid if they happen to serve love in any situation. (p. 30)

In the CCEF, love as action is the outer ring and the visible and external result of every other aspect of the model. While the principles of level-5 (authenticity, integrity, responsibility, and telos) are the foundation behind making solid decisions in ethical dilemmas, it is love as action that constitutes the change agent. Smedes (1986) argues, “Where love is lost, humanity is lost, and all our human associations become bloodless combats where aggressive egos manipulate each other . . . what love wants is action, and not just a lot of talk” (p. 54, 56). Smedes goes on to claim that out of the two absolute rules that define everything, love sits next to justice in importance of ethics. Kant (2005) differentiates delight from benevolence, as in delight no obligations can apply, whereas the goal of benevolence is beneficence, a practical application that can in Kant’s opinion be termed as a universal maxim.

However, love without God is no love at all. Adeney (1995) claims that all laws in the Bible must be viewed in context of the First and Second Great Commandment of love, and if divine or natural law is my source for love, then I must always consider love in context of my relationship with God. “It is not by ideals and programmes or by conscience, duty, responsibility and virtue that reality can be confronted and overcome, but simply and solely by the perfect love of God” (Bonhoeffer, 1995). Through the exercise of the love shown to me by God, my love outwardly becomes the only confrontation to the world; whereas conscience, duty, responsibility, virtue, ideals, culture, morality, law, integrity, and authenticity are invisible worlds within me, love is how I express those to others, especially within the context of a different culture which shares different concepts of those invisible worlds.

Application of level 4 to case study. “I’m definitely not going to prevent students from individually copying books. If we need something for class, we will certainly continue to make photocopies,” said a student at Peking University interviewed by Mooney (2006). For me this hits home, as everyday I step into the halls of my university and try to make a difference. Furthermore, Peking University along with Tsinghua University are the top two universities in the People’s Republic of China. If a student at Harvard or Yale made that same statement, how would the public react?

Three kinds of beliefs predict behavior, according to Azjen and Driver (1992), summarized in their Theory of Planned Behavior: attitudes, norms and perceived control. Based on this theory, Su, Lu and Lin proposed that one possible method to fighting the behavior supporting textbook piracy at the university level was through analyzing the attitudes students held about that behavior, reducing the benefits and increasing the cost (or norms), and instituting stricter control systems and through this process the researchers could cause students to feel guilt and thus defer their decision to buy a pirated textbook. However, this method would be impossible unless the publishers had control over the market. At Fudan University in Shanghai, the libraries have rows and rows of copies of foreign textbooks and teachers quite often distribute these materials in class (Lin-Liu & Bollag, 2004). If schools such as Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Fudan University (think Harvard, Yale, and Stanford) are systematically allowing for pirated materials to be distributed to students without any prosecution, how is making students feel guilty going to change things, and how does that show love?

As an educator, all I can do within the delicate position I have at my school is to love my students: as learners, as scholars, and as partners in the quest for knowledge. If I cause them to stumble, what love is that? My love for them is a practical action of informing, educating, and expecting quantity of quality with the work I give them. While I may be only one teacher, I can make a difference through the simple actions of Christ-like love. “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light” (Luke 8:16, New International Version). As a feasible action I need only be aware and help others to be aware, and through a few change begins. I can force a man to move his cart but unless I speak to his heart, the cart will return the next day.

Level 5: Purpose and foundation. The CCEF model is nothing without a solid foundation of personal authenticity, integrity, and responsibility, bounded together by a pure purpose. The weakness of moving forward in love without a strong foundation is that when a strong wind blows through the room or an earthquake shakes the floorboards, the lamp mentioned in Luke falls to the ground and both the light and the warmth are extinguished.

Authenticity is the strength of my belief, while praxis is how I live that life. Starratt (2004) says that as I am “a unique being who will exist only once in the entire universe, my originality is something that only I can discover, author, perform, define, and actualize” (p.66). Starratt calls this actualization a moral imperative, and by disowning or feigning knowledge of my possible actualization, I am not living out my life with authenticity. Praxis is the growth of my beliefs through day-by-day steps of action, which can only actualize through practice within context, bonding with diverse cultural elements, and committing myself to the Second Great Commandment (Adeney, 1995). Furthermore, authenticity has both a personal and social moral dynamic (Starratt, 2004, p. 80), shaped “in the dialogue that occurs between parent and child, between siblings, between friends” (p.67).

Price (2008) names morality as “an explicit component of personal integrity” (p. 102). Yukl (2002) adds that integrity must be “consistent with espoused values . . . [that] the person is honest, ethical, and trustworthy” (p. 192). According to Price, personal integrity is the cornerstone of deciding whether or not a decision made is justified and therefore necessary. In other words, without personal integrity, any decision I make regarding anything is balancing on the tip of a pin, liable to fall at any time. When my world is built onto the tip of that pin and that pin falls, there is no way to pick it up again.

Besides the personal elements of integrity, socially I must recognize that “humans cannot be treated indifferently, as if they are gravel to be swept aside or parts of a machine that can be thrown away when they wear out” (Starratt, 2004, p. 68). The integrity of the known, as Starratt calls it, means submitting myself “to the message of the known, willing to be humbled by the complexity of the known” (p. 77). Starratt’s point is especially integral to understanding educational ethics, as the known is the meeting or mating of intelligences, and so because the act of caring for knowledge is a social action, knowledge becomes a moral dilemma. Through knowledge and the mating of intelligences, the educator learns “more about the human condition, about the social, political, cultural, and natural worlds that make up the curriculum the school intends to teach” (p. 50). Therefore, for me to be a teacher of integrity I must care for the respect of knowledge as both part of my personal character as well as a vehicle for change in the social community of learners.

Starratt (2004) divides responsibility into three key areas: responsibility to myself, responsibility to my stakeholders, and responsibility to civic virtue. In this way, as a human being I am “responsible for taking a stand with other human beings – not above them, as someone removed from the human condition, but as one sharing fully in it” (p. 49). Spiritually however, responsibility is fundamentally anchored in Christ. “It is the fact that life is bound to man and to God which sets life in the freedom of a man’s own life. Without this bond and without this freedom there is no responsibility” (Bonhoeffer, 1995, p. 221). Bonhoeffer describes responsibility as a matter of deputyship; as Christ “became a man . . . and thereby bore responsibility and deputyship for men” (p. 223), so must I be responsible towards Christ and understand that the boundaries of my calling are “broken though not only from above, that is to say by Christ, but also in an outward direction” (p. 253) in serving others besides only myself. In the end both Bonhoeffer and Starratt recognize that responsibility begins at the heart and ends at the hands.

The binding factor between these three elements is telos, or grand purpose. Without a goal or a purpose, the strength of will or the ableness of faith to withstand trials and tribulations comes to nothing, just as a rock having no feet or legs cannot move but must stay stationary. In an article from the Formula of Concord (a Lutheran confessional) the purpose or telos of the law given to men by God was “that outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men . . . that [they] may be led to knowledge of their sins, and that after they are regenerate. . . they might on this account have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life” (Epitome 6:1). Bonhoeffer (1995) claims that the Good News is the goal of this statement, also known as the primus usus, and therefore as a fundamental telos serves as the blueprint for all my actions in the intersection between authenticity, integrity, and responsibility. Kierkegaard identifies telos being founded on faith when he describes Abraham’s decision to kill his son making him either “a murderer or a man of faith” (Fear and Trembling 85), meaning that my faith ultimately underscores my ability to function under the law of God, as the law is my map for living my life as I was meant to be according to God’s plan. Therefore without faith, telos fails, and the glue holding my body (authenticity), heart (integrity), and hands (responsibility) falls apart.

Application of level 5 to case study. Douglas Hunt, a professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia, received an e-mail one morning notifying him that an anthology he had edited and even contributed to was being pirated in China, being sold by a university publishing house for $2.50 each with his name removed and instead, the name of a Chinese professor claiming authorship (Lin-Liu & Bollag, 2004). In the end, Dr. Hunt did not press charges, as he “didn’t feel terribly violated,” rather he “felt [he had] made enough money off of the book” himself, even though the book had already sold 4,000 copies in one city alone. The fear westerners have in approaching China with regards to textbook piracy is tantamount to madness. Ian Taylor of the Publishers Association stated that publishers are not bothering to check piracy in China because the market has expanded so quickly, leaving them little time to pursue infringements, even while they seem quite content in complaining to the media or their respective governments. Lin-Liu and Bollag explain this paradox of fear: “The Chinese government, citing national legislation, has also refused to allow foreign publishers to hire local investigators to determine the extent of the problem,” leading to a fear of backlash from the Chinese government if a foreign publisher were to pursue litigation in regards to a supposed piracy case.

If foreign publishers are refused access to pursuing legal courses of action, if the systematic structure of the Chinese publishing house does not allow for individual investigations into piracy violations, and if presses are relying entirely on the good nature of people to come forward to expose piracy, where is the hope for a future where educators in China are credited with the hard work they do? While in Taiwan many educators prefer to use guilt mechanisms to push students into an ethical corner (Su, Lu, & Lin, 2011), guilt management is hardly worthy of Christ-like behavior or of an honest, authentic educator, and is more a short-term solution in lieu of any long-term solutions.

However, I don’t believe the future is stark. I can only speak from my personal experience, but with the proper ethical framework even educators can become transformed, and through education students will gain a sense of morality passed on to them by their teachers. Whether they choose to adopt that moral worldview is personal, but without the knowledge that ‘obtaining prior consent’ is necessary when it comes to textbook printing, nothing will change. The solution is simple, but the process is far from simple; nevertheless, it is necessary.


Adeney, B. (1995). Strange virtues: Ethics in a multicultural world. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.

Ajzen, I., & Driver, B. L. (1992). Application of the theory of planned behavior to leisure choice. Journal of Leisure Research, 24(3), 207-240.

Allport, F. H. (1924). Social psychology. Cambridge, MA: Riverside.

Augsburger, D. W. (1986). Pastoral counseling across cultures. Philadephia: Westminster.

Blackburn, S. (2001). Being good: A short introduction to ethics. New York: Oxford.

Bonhoeffer, D. (1995). Ethics. New York: Touchstone.

Chiu, C. Y., Dweck, C. S., Tong, J. Y. Y., & Fu, J. H. Y. (1997). Implicit theories and conceptions of morality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73(5), 923-940.

Coles, R. (2000). Lives of moral leadership: Men and women who have made a difference. New York: Random House.

Experts question China’s antipiracy education, (2004, January 16). Asian Economic News. Retrieved from

Fletcher, J. (1967). Moral responsibility: Situation ethics at work. Philadelphia: Westminster.

Herskovits, M. J. (1972). In Frances Herskovits (Ed.), Cultural relativism: Perspectives in cultural pluralism. New York: Random House.

Hume, D. (1975). In L.A. Selby-Bigge (Ed.), Enquiries concerning human understanding and concerning the principles of morals (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford.

Jekielek, S., & Brown, B. (2005). The transition to adulthood: Characteristics of young adults ages 18- 24 in America. Population Reference Bureau. Washington, D.C.: Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Kant, I. (2005). Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. In L. B. Denis (Ed.), Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (pp. 47-118). Petersborough, Ontario: Broadview.

Lee, Y. L. (2007). The price difference of the economics textbooks (Master’s thesis). National Central University, Graduate Institute of Industrial Economics, Jhongli City, Taiwan.

Lin-Liu, J., & Bollag, B. (2004). Textbook pirates find a huge market in China. Chronicle of Higher Education, 50(30), A43-A45.

Lindbeck, G. A. (1984). The nature of doctrine: Religion and theology in a postliberal age. Philadephia: Westminster.

Martin, J., & Siehl, C. (1983). Organizational culture and counterculture: An uneasy symbiosis. Organizational Dynamics, Autumn, 52-64.

Martina, M. (2011, September 23). Geithner slams China’s intellectual property policies. Fox Business. Retrieved from

Mooney, P. (2006). China cracks down on textbook copying. Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(14), A46-A46.

Pirated teaching materials threaten health of China’s youth, (2009, September 15). TorrentFreak. Retrieved from

Price, T. (2008). Leadership ethics: An introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Robertson, C., & Fadil, P. A. (1999). Ethical decision-making in multinational organizations: A culture- based model. Journal of Business Ethics, 19, 385-392.

Rogers, E. F. (1998). The narrative of natural law in Aquinas’s commentary on Romans 1. Theological Studies, 59, 254-276.

Smedes, L. B. (1986). Choices: Making right decisions in a complex world. New York: HarperCollins.

Starratt, R. (2004). Ethical leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Vines, W. A., & Napier, N. K. (1992). Toward an understanding of cross-cultural ethics: A tentative model. Journal of Business Ethics, 11, 831-841.

Wang, Z. G. (2009). Current status of copyright awareness of China’s publishing corporations. Publishing Research Quarterly, 25, 208-218.
Su, H. J., Lu, L. C., & Lin, T. A. (2011). The mediating role of anticipated guild in consumers’ textbook piracy intention. Asia Pacific Management Review, 16(3), 255-275.

Wilkens, S. (1995). Beyond bumper sticker ethics: An introduction to theories of right and wrong. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity.

Xu, C. F. (2007). Love: Partial or equal? A comparative study of Confucian love, Mohist love and Christian love. In Zhu Shipeng & Yang Xuegong (Eds.), Rethinking Marx: Chinese philosophical studies, XXVI, 3(26), 135-155.

Yukl, G. (2002). Leadership in Organizations (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.