Combining Clarity and Complexity A Layered Approach to Cross-Cultural Ethics

Elizabeth Kiss

in Naming Evil Judging Evil

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780226306735
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226306742 | DOI:
Combining Clarity and Complexity A Layered Approach to Cross-Cultural Ethics

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This chapter addresses the issue of judgment in the face of cross-cultural complexity by examining two controversial cases—female genital mutilation and suicide bombings. It constructs a model of good judgment that combines a commitment to core substantive norms with a capacity to make layered judgments that distinguish between moral assessments of (a) an action or practice; (b) the social contexts that shape, sustain, and give meaning to the practice; (c) the motivations and interests of those who engage in or defend it; (d) our own moral standing in relation to it; and (e) appropriate and effective responses to it. It is argued that a layered model of moral judgment avoids two extreme responses to situations where judgments must be made cross-culturally: clarity purchased at the price of cultural sensitivity and complexity that undermines the capacity to judge altogether.

Keywords: judgment; cross-cultural complexity; female genital mutilation; suicide bombings; moral judgment; cultural sensitivity

Chapter.  15282 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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