Trying out One’s new Sword is an article on the topic of ethics written by Mary Midgley in 1981. In the article, Midgley aims to investigate different aspects of moral isolationism in order to assess the viability of the above-mentioned theoretical model. Midgley (2015) states that even though moral isolationism may appear to be a respectful way to treat foreign cultures, in reality, it may be irrational and even harmful. The author provides four independent, evidence-based reasons that prove the initial statement regarding the reliability of moral isolationism.
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Moral isolationism suggests that judging an unfamiliar culture is inappropriate and may demonstrate a lack of respect. However, according to Midgley (2015), it may not be possible to respect anything without judging it, including cultural aspects. Judgment is an essential part of the assessment, which may result in genuine understanding and respect for another culture. It may not be possible to be sincerely respectful towards a culture within moral isolationism when only positive judgments are considered appropriate. Midgley (2015) also insists that the model, which allows only praising a foreign culture, does not contribute to the understanding of it. Hence, it may be vital to assess various aspects of culture regardless of their appeal.
Another significant problem related to moral isolationism is the impossibility to adequately judge native culture without assessing foreign traditions and customs. As a result, people may lose their ability to evaluate ethical standards as a whole. Finally, Midgley (2015) mentions that cultures do not exist independently and interrelate with each other significantly. Such interaction between cultures contradicts with fundamental principles of moral isolationism and hence proves the non-viability of the approach.
Midgley, M. M. (2015). Trying out one’s new sword. There It Is. org.