Jeriza Dana M. Junio
Book Review Chapter 1---Ethical Theories
Trying Out One’s New Sword --- Mary Midgley
Book: Contemporary Moral Problems
By: James E. White
Library Reference: N/A
Amazon Link:
Learning Expectations:
I want to learn something interesting in this part, I want to gain new knowledge
regarding the moral problems that are included in this text.
“Morally, as well as physically, there is only one world, and we all have to live in it.”
In this part of the book Midgley had some very strong arguments in this chapter.
Generally the idea is to revoke moral isolation. Moral isolation is the belief of anthropologists
that people cannot criticize other customs or cultures that they don't belong to. To Midgley,
the idea deprives us of moral reasoning and judgment. It was an aggressive take on the
simple idea.
I think this topic can be an eye opener to people. It states that people should get to
know first a culture before judging it. We should consider moral isolationism which prohibits us
to criticize other culture if we don’t understand them or we don’t belong in them. It will not
People should learn from Midgley’s point of view.
What I have learned:
I have learned the meaning of the title of this subtopic of the book. Midgley has
thought of a good example to explain her point.
Integrative Questions:
1.) What is tsujigiri?
2.) Who is Mary Midgley?
3.) What is Moral Isolationism?
4.) What is a crude opinion?
5.) What is moral judgement?
Review Questions:
1.) What is “moral isolationism”?
- Moral isolationism is a doctrine of immoralism because it forbids any moral
2.) Explain the Japanese custom tsujigiri? What questions does Midgley ask about this
- A samurai sword had to be tried out because, if it is was to work properly, it had to
slice through someone at a single blow, from the shoulder to the opposite flank. Otherwise,
the warrior bungled his stroke. This could injure his honour, offend his ancestors, and even let
down his emperor. Does the isolating barrier work both ways? Are people in other cultures
equally unable to criticize us?
3.) What is wrong with moral isolationism according to Midgley?
- It falsely assumes that cultures are separate and unmixed, whereas most cultures are
in fact formed out of many influences.
4.) What does Midgley think is the basis for criticizing other cultures?
- To respect someone, we have to know enough about him to make a favourable
judgement, however general or tentative. And we do understand people in other cultures to
this extent.
Discussion Question:
1.) Midgley says that Nietzsche is an immoralist. Is that an accurate and fair assessment of
Nietzsche? Why or why not?
- Yes. It is not acceptable that Midgley judge Nietzsche without stating a reason.
2.) Do you agree with Midgley’s claim that the idea of separate and unmixed cultures is
unreal? Explain your answer.
- Yes.

Jeriza Dana M. Junio O0B ITETHICS Book Review Chapter 1