Roy Tseng


In order to provide comments on Michael Dowdle's account of "Constitutional Listening," this paper aims to establish three counter-arguments. First of all, in contrast to Dowdle's particularly narrow understanding of liberalism, I argue that to evaluate the moral import of liberalism properly, we need to draw attention to the diversities of liberalism. According to what I will call "historicist liberalism," for example, in understanding other cultures we should try to show sensitivities toward alien political systems and moral values. Second of all, although I appreciate Dowdle's effort to avoid the misinterpretation of non-Western constitutional discourse, I do not agree with his methodology purporting to maintain that we should remain morally neutral when conducting cross-cultural dialogues, and that there is no moral linkage between two different civilizations. Finally, with regard to listening to the voices of new-Left thinking which have appeared in China's recent constitutional debates, Dowdle simply overlooks the fact that in the Chinese context the major political and legal vocabularies actually originate from Europe; and consequently, he neglects the long-term historical efforts that Chinese intellectuals have made to accommodate liberal visions in an attempt to resolve their moral anxiety.