Abstract from Singapore Dreaming Conference presentation by Kwok Kian Woon
Values do change over time. However, a simplistic concept of eternal and immutable values is attractive to many who are grappling with rapid change and uncertainty. In this presentation, I shall not focus on publicly stated or promoted values, especially when they are codified in some form, for example “Shared Values” or some “ism” or other. Everyday life presents us with moral contradictions and dilemmas — the tensions between ideals and reality, what we preach and what we practice, what we know ought to be done and how we justify not doing so. Which values change and which don’t, in what ways, among whom, and why? How do values change? Certainly, not “automatically” — not without human agency. With these thoughts in mind, I offer some reflections on Singapore. In particular, I ask what it would mean to develop a stronger humanistic tradition in Singapore over time.