Have you ever agreed with two pieces that were the same but so different? These are the type of feelings one may have after reading the “Piece Moral Disagreement” by Kwame Anthony Appiah and the piece “Gender Class, and Terrorism” by Michael S Kimmel. Appiah’s article is very open minded and grounded. Appiah (2006) focuses on moral theory within culture. Appiah argues that formative denotation of culture is ultimately preceded by the intellectual interchange. Kimmel’s piece focuses on gender and culture. He looks at the small details in gender and terrorism that are similar. I believe that Both Kimmel and Appiah give valid points on intercultural ethnic understanding, cultural diversity and historic taboos to back up arguments on culture; however Appiah’s philosophy is more useful on the aspect of understanding culture than Kimmel’s.
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Both Kimmel and Appiah focus their piece on intercultural arguments. Kimmel talks about Timothy McVeigh, a racist white supremacist and the Taliban policy that he believes both have intercultural taboos. He said “Their anger often fixes on “others”-women, members of minority groups, immigrants, gay men and lesbian” (p. 451). Kimmel believes theses terrorist want to re-masculinize men and feminize women. Appiah focuses on the cosmopolitan view of different cultures and societies. He talks about taboos within our cultures and our gender. Appiah is very realistic on his philosophy that cultures may never agree but we need to understand them.
Appiah expects disagreements within intercultural communication; for example, he says, “and the most fundamental level of disagreement occurs when one party to a discussion invokes a concept that the other simply doesn’t have” (p.380). Kimmel is trying to pinpoint evidence, and he gives an example of intercultural tactics that could explain the motivation of terrorist acts. For example, Kimmel links Timothy Mcviegh and the terrorists of September 11 in the same class. He says, “Virtually all were under twenty-five, educated, lower middle class or middle class, downwardly mobile” (p. 451). Kimmel gives his reader intercultural resources and information to help pin point what to look for in a terrorist through culture. Appiah has a more open mind with culture. He uses the concepts “thick and thin”: thick means detailed and thin represents “universal”. Appiah would most likely recommend to Kimmel that we will never realize or understand all of the different taboos within culture.
Kimmel and Appiah have a realistic understanding of cultural diversity. Appiah uses emphasis on cross-cultural conversation as a mean of promoting mutual understanding. Appiah uses a realistic example: “to apply the concept of ‘rudeness,’ for example, you have to think of the act you’re criticizing as a breach of good manners or as lacking the appropriate degree of concern for the felling of others. I say, ‘thank you’ ironically, when you accidentally step on my foot, implying that you did it deliberately. That’s rude. Thanking a person, without irony, for something that he’s done for you isn’t” (p. 380). Kimmel argues that cultural diversity that opposes globalization and the spread of western values can lead to violence. He quotes, “the resulting anger is naturally directed first against their rulers, and then against those whom they see as keeping those ruler in power for selfish reasons” (p. 452). Both authors could agree that we have a lot of differences within our humanity.
Appiah shows historic examples of taboos within his Ghanaian background, while Kimmel gives the reader valid sources of taboos within culture. For instance, Appiah shares the different family kinship in the Akan society in Ghana. He says, “Consider the abusua, this is a group of people related by common ancestry” (p.381). Appiah then explains that your membership in the abusua depends only on who your mother is, your father is irrelevant. This is a great example of the many cultural differences that would be weird or un-moral to western culture; however, I believe that Appiah would want his reader to try to understand there is no right or wrong way. Kimmel gives examples of the hate that is brought in by anti-globalization politics. He quotes “Peter Mardsden, has observed that the Taliban is a desperate attempt to keep out that other world, and protect Afghan women from influences that could weaken the society from within” (p.452). Both Appiah and Kimmel show great examples of cultural differences.
Overall both authors have strong arguments, however I believe that Appiah philosophy is more useful for one to understand culture. Kimmel and Appiah both point out a lot of differences within cultures, but Kimmel focuses on small details within cultures to pinpoint or understand terrorist acts with globalization. Appiah shows the reader examples of the differences between cosmopolitans and Universalist. He says “cosmopolitans suppose that all cultures have enough overlap in their vocabulary of values to begin a conversation. But they don’t suppose, like some Universalists, that we could all come to agreement if only we had the same vocabulary” (p. 387). Appiah then backs up his argument by showing an example of a journalist interview. He says “a journalist interviews a foreign dictator, someone who is known for his abuses of human rights. (Journalist) She speaks differentially, frequently calling him your Excellency” (p. 387). He then sums his point up by saying “is this politeness or is it a craven abdication of the journalist obligation to press for the trust? Can it be both? If it is politeness, is it appropriate, in these circumstances, to be polite? Appiah successfully uses strong examples to back up his argument stating that politeness, morals and taboos differ for us all; while Kimmel uses a universal approach that Appiah would categorize as thin.
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Appiah has a stronger piece with stronger evidence that makes his piece more understandable for the reader, while Kimmel has some evidence that is weak. A Kimmel quote, (Mohammed Atta) “was he gay? Was he a repressed homosexual, too ashamed of his sexuality to come out? Such innuendoes are based on no more than a few circumstantial tidbits about his life. He was slim, sweet-faced, neat, meticulous, a snazzy dresser” (p.452). Such allegations are irrelevant because there is no strong evidence to prove any homosexuality. He also brings an example of Adolf Hitler he quotes ” He argues that any of Hitler’s policies-such as the killing of longtime colleague and avowed homosexual Ernst Rohm, or even the systematic persecution and execution of gay men in concentration camps-were, in fact prompted by a desire to conceal his own homosexuality” (p.453). Again there is no concrete evidence to prove any homosexuality with Hitler. Hitler was a sick disturbed terrorist whom kill thousands that were not gay so how could we know any difference of his killings.
Overall both authors brought different arguments from a different prospective on culture. Being that Appiah is a philosopher, he brings knowledge, values, and wisdom, within fundamental problems in his argument. Kimmel, a sociologist, he argued with the study of human behavior. I would recommend both pieces to any reader who would like to look at different theories, but I would highly recommend Appiah’s piece because it is reasonable and clear on human intercultural civilization.
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