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The Risky Cartography of Drawing Moral Maps: With Special Reference to Economic Inequality and Sex-Selective Abortion1

The Risky Cartography of Drawing Moral Maps: With Special Reference to Economic Inequality and Sex-Selective Abortion1

Chapter:
(p.280) Fifteen The Risky Cartography of Drawing Moral Maps: With Special Reference to Economic Inequality and Sex-Selective Abortion1
Source:
Universalism without Uniformity
Author(s):
Richard A. Shweder
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226501710.003.0016

During much of the 20th century the ranking of cultures, civilizations, and religions from better to worse was out of fashion in American cultural anthropology. Nevertheless, in recent decades global moral mapping has become popular again, even in cultural anthropology. In light of this pendulum swing this essay presents two examples of ways to do normative analysis while avoiding ethnocentrism and the associated hazards of invidious global comparisons. The first example concerns economic inequality in the United States. It raises some doubts about recent liberal egalitarian portraits of the US, especially those which convey a sense of national crisis and social decline based on evidence that economic inequalities have been growing for the past fifty years and are greater today than in the decades prior to 1965. The second example concerns sex selective abortion in India. Critically examined is the depiction of the Indian sub-continent as a patriarchal society where violence against women runs so deep that even the womb of Indian mothers is a dangerous place for a female fetus. The essay illustrates the value of a cultural psychology of morality approach to comparison by complicating our picture of income inequality and by reframing that portrait of sex discrimination.

Keywords:   Economic Inequality, Sex Selective, Abortion, Morality, Cultural Comparison, Equality-Difference Paradox, India, Gender, Kiryas Joel

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