[Topics: Cultural Relativism, Culture, Moral Realism]
Cultivating Moral Humility:

What Cultural Differences and Similarities Have to Say about Morality

 

Ruth Benedict - cultural differences - morality - cultural relativism - moral realism

Introduction

In my prior post, I explored the notion that moral realism is not as pragmatically attractive as it presents itself when its proponents are comparing it to opposing systems. I would now like to take up another narrow topic in the discussion of morality—the notion that moral realism must be true for the opposite of the reason that others feel cultural relativism must be true: while some relativists feel that cultural differences demonstrate the lack of objective moral truth, some realists feel that morality must be objective and real because all people across the world, and throughout history, have held certain values in common.

Well, in response, first, I would recommend reading my initial article in this series, on how some basic aspects of what we call morality are necessary features of our evolutionary past, but not ‘objective’ in the desired sense. But second, and more importantly, I would seek to show that this argument for moral realism and the opposite argument for cultural relativism actually fail for the same reason.

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[Topics: Cultural Relativism, Culture, Moral Realism]
Cultivating Moral Humility:

What Cultural Differences and Similarities Have to Say about Morality

was last modified: March 27th, 2018 by Daniel Podgorski

[Film: Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino, 1997]
Tarantino’s Odd Film Out:

The Uniqueness of Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown

 

Introduction:

Quentin Tarantino Sketch by M.R.P. - Jackie Brown - unique

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

Just like this week’s Mid-Week Mission, this will be a light recommendation to follow last week’s heavier entry (in the Theater’s case, last week was a criticism of the inconsistent philosophy of Slumdog Millionaire). And the film which I would like to recommend is Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.

Jackie Brown is certainly one of the two or three least viewed works in Tarantino’s catalogue, and it’s not hard to see why. Tarantino followed up two extremely violent dramas full of fast, aggressive dialogue with a slow-paced, traditionally structured heist movie. Jackie Brown centers on a stalwart stewardess and a cautious clerk, while relegating Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson to roles as sleazy, unlikeable criminals.

In short, the movie was not at all what the audience was expecting, and was soon over-shadowed by the grandeur and gratuitousness of Kill Bill. But this is a film every bit as entertaining as his others, and totally unique in his oeuvre for many reasons, explored below.

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[Film: Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino, 1997]
Tarantino’s Odd Film Out:

The Uniqueness of Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown

was last modified: December 21st, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Offspring Fling!, Kyle Pulver, 2012]
A Hidden Gauntlet:

The Brutal Platformer Hiding Behind the Lovely Facade of Offspring Fling!

 

Introduction:

After the heavy subject matter and dense theoretical prose of your last Mid-week Mission, I am just going to make this one a brief recommendation of another cheap, oft-overlooked indie product. This might just be another outlying opinion on a tiny title, but when it comes to Offspring Fling!, I love the game.

After beating Offspring Fling! casually (or as soon as you care to notice it), the real challenge of the title opens up: one of the most precise and challenging speed-run systems built into a game of which I am aware, which upon completion unlocks a suite of precision platforming bonus levels.

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[Game: Offspring Fling!, Kyle Pulver, 2012]
A Hidden Gauntlet:

The Brutal Platformer Hiding Behind the Lovely Facade of Offspring Fling!

was last modified: May 16th, 2018 by Daniel Podgorski

[Work: The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, 1985]
The Once and Future America:

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Consequences of (American) Society Yielding to Fear

 

Margaret Atwood Sketch by M.R.P. - The Handmaid's Tale - America, tradition, conservatism, theocracy

Caricature Sketch by M.R.P.
[High-res prints available here]

Introduction:

One unfamiliar with the novel, or unfamiliar with Margaret Atwood, might be understandably mistaken about what sort of book lies behind the unassuming title The Handmaid’s Tale. The name conjures up images of Victorian romance and understated drama which could not be further from the reality: a brutal piece of mid-1980s dystopian fiction about life in a theocratic America.

A decade and a half before Atwood won the Booker prize for The Blind Assassin, the Canadian author was nominated for the award (and a host of others) for this mid-80s work of considerable power and brilliance. Anyone who prizes the introduction of more traditional ideals into a country’s governance ought to equip an open mind and give this chilling tale a read.

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[Work: The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood, 1985]
The Once and Future America:

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and the Consequences of (American) Society Yielding to Fear

was last modified: October 18th, 2017 by Daniel Podgorski

[Topics: Moral Knowledge, Moral Realism, Pragmatism]
The Morality Pageant:

On the Relative Attractiveness of Moral Realism and its Alternatives

 

Introduction:

The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice Emblem - moral realism - nihilism - pragmatismLooking back at my school days, I remember a Ph.D. student in the philosophy department remarking on the differences between moral realism (the system of thought that says that there exists a literal, objective morality) and its alternatives by appealing to the consequences of holding each belief.

The moral realist, he underscored, has the advantages of being able to say that society is making moral progress, and being able to say that some societies have been immoral at different times, such as Nazi Germany and slaveholding America. Moral relativists, moral nihilists, and all related parties, he pointed out, have no such recourse. So, surely, even if one is convinced that moral realism is false, this student concluded, it might be better not to mention that conviction ‘in polite company.’

In fact, the article by James Rachels which I discussed last week makes some very similar statements in its singular effort to refute cultural relativism. But is it true that believing morality is not truly objective is somehow uglier or less desirable than believing that there is an objective morality? To explore this, I will take a closer look at both sides.

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[Topics: Moral Knowledge, Moral Realism, Pragmatism]
The Morality Pageant:

On the Relative Attractiveness of Moral Realism and its Alternatives

was last modified: March 27th, 2018 by Daniel Podgorski