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Moral Isolationism

Moral Isolationism - Kunkle 1 Sarah Kunkle Professor Carse...

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Kunkle 1 Sarah Kunkle Professor Carse Intro to Ethics 24 October 2007 Global Morality for a Global Society: A Rejection of Moral Isolationism In “Trying out One’s New Sword,” Mary Midgely presents her case against moral isolationism, claiming that this philosophy is not a “respectful attitude to other cultures” and ultimately can be harmful to society. While proponents of moral isolationism engage this theory because of certain moral concerns, the potential repercussions of a moral isolationist society are frightening. In this paper, I will argue that moral isolationism is in fact a dangerous idea, and outdated in the modern era of globalization, specifically regarding its claim that we do not have the ability to understand foreign cultures and practices. Additionally, I will contend that rejection of moral isolationism does not imply ignorance and disrespect of foreign societies but rather contributes to a more harmonious society where individuals enjoy more rights. Finally, I will employ the case of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib as evidence that moral isolationism can be detrimental to society by excusing bad behavior on the basis of unfamiliar contexts. In her essay, Midgely defines moral isolationism as the belief that we cannot make judgments about other cultures because we simply do not understand these cultures enough to do so. However, this claim that we lack the ability to understand foreign cultures, practices, and traditions is not entirely warranted, especially in the modern age of cultural, technological and economic globalization. While acquiring knowledge of a foreign culture is not an easy task, it is possible with the increased flow of information
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Kunkle 2 and knowledge that exists in today’s world. Resources such as the Internet and media publications have allowed the average citizen to gain insight into foreign societies and their traditions and customs. Additionally, the growth of tourism and increased travel has allowed people to immerse themselves in foreign cultures and gain better understandings of those societies. The moral isolationist view also errs in the sense that it portrays the world as a conglomerate of distinct cultural entities, which only interact and intermix on a limited basis. Midgely claims that this errant view originated in the nature of anthropological studies that focused on “very small and remote cultures” (Midgley 179). While this depiction may be appropriate for the study of historic civilizations, it has become
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