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To what extent should we make moral judgments about cultural practices from outside our own culture - Essay Example

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To what extent should we make moral judgments about cultural practices from outside our own culture

Those who recommend this hold that the world is sharply divided into separate societies, sealed units, each with its own system of thought. They feel that the respect and tolerance due from one system to another forbids us ever to take up a critical position to any other culture." (Midgley, 69) According to this perspective, moral judgment is a kind of coinage valid only in its country of origin and the author terms this position ass 'moral isolationism'. Midgley also maintains that it is not forced upon individuals, and indeed makes no sense at all, to make moral judgment about other cultures. Unlike the general thinking that such an attempt to make moral judgment about other cultures is a respectful attitude to other cultures, the author purports that one cannot respect what is entirely unintelligible to one and therefore it is not respectful attitude. Here, the author comes up with her central argument of the article and there is every reason to realize it as true and rational. As the author argues, it is essential for one to know enough about another person or culture in order to come up with an evenhanded judgment about the culture or person. Therefore, Mary Midgley makes some essential arguments concerning moral judgment of other cultures in her article "On Trying out One's New Sword" and a reflective analysis of the article helps us in determining to what extent we should make moral judgments about cultural practices from outside our own culture.
The article "On Trying out One's New Sword" suggests a moral isolationism which lays down a general ban on moral reasoning with regard to making moral judgments about strange cultures. In order to establish her argument, the author makes use of some remote example from the classical Japanese with a verb which means 'to try out one's new sword on a chance wayfarer'. According to this example, the Samurai is required to try out this new sword on any wayfarer who was not another Samurai, and this action could injure his honor, offend his ancestors, and even let down his emperor. "Now when we hear of a custom like this, we may well reflect that we do not understand it; and therefore are not qualified to criticize it at all, because we are not members of that culture. But we are not members of any other culture either, except our own. So we extend the principle to cover all extraneous cultures, and we seem therefore to be moral isolationists." (Midgley, 70) Midgley also deals with certain fundamental questions about moral isolationism with reference to making moral judgments about strange cultures. First of all, she examines whether the isolating barrier work both ways or people in other cultures are equally unable to criticize others. According to her, outsiders can deliver perfectly good indictments, although it makes more than two weeks to make them demining. "Intelligent outsiders can progress in it, and in some ways will be at an advantage over the locals. But, if this is so, it must clearly apply to ourselves as much as anybody else." (Midgley, 70) The author also deals with the question whether the isolating barrier between cultures block praise as well as blame. It is important to make immaculate judgments about other ...Show more

Summary

There are several different cultures in the world and people usually find it difficult to understand the practices from cultures strange to them. As it is essential for human beings to deal with the difficulty in comprehending the various aspects of the other cultures, a system of making good moral judgments about cultural practices from outside one's own culture has great relevance…
Author : jeramyratke
To what extent should we make moral judgments about cultural practices from outside our own culture essay example
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