“Trying Out One’s New Sword” by Mary Midgley Summary

Categories: CultureEthics

Delving into the realm of ethics, Mary Midgley, in her 1981 article "Trying out One’s new Sword," scrutinizes the tenability of moral isolationism. While this theoretical model ostensibly champions the respectful treatment of foreign cultures, Midgley contends that its application may prove irrational and even detrimental. Her exploration unfolds through four evidence-backed reasons challenging the reliability of moral isolationism.

Contrary to the premise that refraining from judgment showcases respect for unfamiliar cultures, Midgley (2015) argues that genuine understanding and respect necessitate a degree of judgment.

The insistence on only positive judgments within moral isolationism, she contends, hinders a sincere appreciation for a culture. To truly comprehend and respect, one must be open to assessing various aspects of a culture, regardless of their immediate appeal.

The inherent flaw of moral isolationism lies in its inability to pass judgment on a native culture without considering foreign traditions and customs. Midgley (2015) emphasizes that this limitation undermines the capacity to evaluate ethical standards holistically. Furthermore, she posits that cultures exist in interconnected webs, challenging the very foundations of moral isolationism, which asserts the independence of cultural entities. Midgley's critique, therefore, unravels the seams of moral isolationism, urging a more nuanced and interconnected ethical assessment.

Midgley's discourse on ethical landscapes extends to highlight the intricacies of cultural interplay. Emphasizing the interconnected nature of cultures, she asserts that moral isolationism falters in acknowledging the dynamic relationships between different societal realms. Beyond the binary of judgment and praise, Midgley (2015) advocates for a comprehensive assessment that encompasses both positive and negative facets.

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This nuanced perspective fosters a deeper understanding, fostering genuine respect for the complexity inherent in foreign cultures. In her critique, Midgley underscores the imperative of embracing a more fluid and interconnected approach to ethics, steering away from the limitations of moral isolationism and inviting a richer exploration of the diverse tapestry that defines human values and societal norms.

Updated: Feb 20, 2024
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“Trying Out One’s New Sword” by Mary Midgley Summary. (2024, Feb 11). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/navigating-ethical-interconnectedness-mary-midgley-s-critique-of-moral-isolationism-essay

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