Presentation on theme: "MIDGLEY DON’T TRY OUT YOUR NEW SWORD ON ME. Mary Midgley (born 1919) English moral philosopher Champion of animal rights and animal basis of human nature."— Presentation transcript:
Mary Midgley (born 1919) English moral philosopher Champion of animal rights and animal basis of human nature Critic of reductionism and scientism
Against: Moral Isolationism Midgley’s THESIS: Moral Isolationism (MI) is wrong (567) Moral Isolationism = DEF “…the respect and tolerance due from one [moral] system to another forbids us ever to take up a critical position to any other culture” [= moral relativism + liberalism]
[ MORAL RELATIVISM ] Moral Relativism (MR) = DEF all moral claims are made relative to a moral system [role of anthropology] = there are no absolute moral facts, truths,… SO: “X is wrong” means “X is wrong S ” for some system S. MR Moral Skepticism (no moral truth) or Moral Nihilism
[ RELATIVITY ] RELATIVE versus ABSOLUTE Examples of RELATIVITY left ME = right YOU large MOUSE = small CAT The Flight from RELATIVITY Left/Right North/East/South/West Large/Small weights and measures Does the ABSOLUTE really exist?
Arguments against MI 1. “Nobody can respect what is entirely unintelligible to them. To respect someone, we have to know enough about him to make a favorable judgement, however general and tentative. And we do understand people in other cultures to this extent.”
Arguments against MI 2(?). Examples: Female circumcision Samurai trying out newsword Chinese Cultural Revolution [Such an argument amounts to an appeal to our moral intuitions. Intuition = knowledge w/o supporting evidence or argument]
Arguments against MI 3. MI denies fairness [symmetry] (567-8) “Does the isolating barrier work both ways? Are people in other cultures equally unable to criticize us?” Answer: No. SO: We are able to criticize them. [Is this a moral (fairness) problem or logical (symmetry) problem?
Arguments against MI 4. “Does MI block praise as well as blame? If I want to say that the Samurai culture has many virtues,…am I prevented from doing that by my outsider status?” [What is the argument suggested by this question? Answer to question is No. SO: blame must be OK since praise is OK.]
Arguments against MI 5. “Judging simply means forming an opinion, and expressing if it is called for.” (568) [ So MI we cannot form an opinion about other moral systems. But then, we cannot have moral opinions at all, which is a reductio ad absurdum.]
Arguments against MI 6. “…moral isolationism would lay down a general ban on moral reasoning. Essentially this is the programme of immoralism [moral nihilism]” (568) BUT “…moral judgement is not a luxury, not a perverse indulgence of the self-righteous. It is a necessity.”
Arguments against MI 7. MI is itself a moral judgment (569). SO: It is therefore only relative. [Turning the tables: apply the rule to itself. Always a good idea in philosophy.] 8. “Morally, as well as physically, there is only one world, and we all have to live in it.” (570)