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Religious Diversity in “The Case for Contamination” by Appiah Essay


Kwame Anthony Appiah is the writer of the article entitled “The Case for Contamination.” In this article, he discusses ethical concerns and cultural diversity, referring to them as a single matter that requires reviewing and expounded discussion as well as globalization. Diversity of cultural practices from different backgrounds explains the reasons for our differences, where Kwame strongly believes that there must be a commonality despite the differences in all of us.

One of the commonalities is that in those diverse cultural activities, we all have customs and traditions that we observe. Kwame views that globalization dimensions are all meant to eliminate homogeneity, thus upholding individuality. Ethical considerations are important by the fact that they promote decency in all societies. In his analyses, he challenges different types of religions in their failure to promote commonalities, but instead, they promote differences where many people lose their lives.

To start with, he first addresses religion as a means of bringing universalism without encouraging any tolerance. This, however, led to murder, for instance, in the case of bloodshed, which happened in four decades during the French wars, which involved religions (Appiah 4). In the outcomes of these wars, Protestants were granted freedom to put into practice their beliefs in reverence to their faith.

Unlike cosmopolitanism on the ideology of shared morality, religions in this case exhibit differences even though they are meant to teach about morals; thus, people resulted in the loss of their lives in the fight for their different morals rights. Kwame further explains more deaths caused by religious differences. There were differences between Protestants and Catholics, which occurred in Europe in 1648. Out of their struggles where each side wanted to take the lead, many Germans lost their lives in the battle.

He continues to illustrate how religion has failed in promoting good relationships on commonalities of morals; thus, people suffer as a result of this. In this, he explains how armies starved, and many died as a result of various diseases that they contracted as they were roaming in the countryside. The best which is achieved in religious differences is death, where he continually illustrates that the conflict war which occurred from 1639to 1651 in the British Isles resulted in approximately 10% of the entire population losing the lives. This war was between the catholic king and the protestant armies. The inability of one religion to tolerate another brings about a distinction on cosmopolitan.

Kwame puts into consideration different religions such that there are some which promote tolerance, but at the same time, they fail to exhibit the values of cosmopolitan. He, therefore, gives an example of Islamic religion, which tolerates some aspects such as; one has the freedom to eat any kind of meat as long as it is halal where he can choose between different types of meat. Cosmopolitans however, distinguish itself from the Islamic religion in that it may not show some tolerance where it might call for intervention, especially when there is a violation of certain principles at a greater perspective contrary to Islamic tolerance. The cosmopolitans also put into more considerations of the morals, and where there is an error, then they put some limits in their tolerance act.

Cosmopolitans like Kwame and others believe in the existence of universal truth as well as the neo-fundamentalists. Cosmopolitans, however, have some uncertainty whether they have achieved all universal truth. By this does not mean they do not believe in truth, but they acknowledge the difficulty of getting the whole truth. They, however, believe that all people are important and they all matter, thus helping them to limits the extent of their tolerance. Apart from the tolerance and the truth, which helps the cosmopolitans to limit the level of tolerance, pluralism is another distinguishing feature that the likes of Kwame put into considerations. A worth living involves many valuables, but it is hard to practice them all, thus acknowledging the differences found on people.

In the continual discussion, he describes the neo-fundamentalism conception as a distinguishing feature more so found in different religions. In this there some religions believe in variations, but they do it only in things that do not matter a lot. In Christian faith, they only believe just in one way that is worth living for and right while putting into considerations all the differences focusing on just one way. There are, however, some individuals like Marxists who were in the business of doing away with all the religions in the name of promoting universal humanity even though this attempt remained just as a vision; the kind of Marxist and Kwame share a common mirror of disregarding religion.

All non-cosmopolitans, especially those that belong to specific religions, are always in the plan of promoting universality as though it is a good thing, but failure to join their religions as their desires the make people suffer. One is only left with one option of joining that specific religion. Kwame illustrates how religions do this by giving an example of the urging call used by Osama in 2002 as a way to persuade Americans into the Islamic faith. Appiah criticizes religion as a one that is not ready for changes that happen within the course of traditions. In this, he gives an example of Christianity, in which its new Pentecostal messengers are in the business of challenging the older Christianity into the change where not all who is for it (Appiah 1).

Liberal pluralism is another aspect that Appiah dislikes on religion. He presents some religion as being hostile to the dictatorial conduct of life. In this, some religions seem to deny freedom to their believers. There are international movements that are busy in the attempts of promoting equality, especially to the women who, for a long time, have been denied some freedom that is given to men.

In this, he points out at Muslims who are against the behaviors depicted by men as well as the western women. In the Western culture, females are allowed to swim nearly being naked with odd males where Muslims, in this case, condemn these acts as a way of promoting modesty among Muslims more so to the women, thus reducing any temptations to Muslim men (Appiah 4).

In my opinion, I tend to differ with Appiah on his representation of religion in his argument. In my view, religion plays a great role in informing someone’s worldview. All my basic morals that are my guiding principles up to now I received them from Sunday school teachings on Christianity. I am not campaigning for Christianity, but I know all religions to be it be Islamic, Buddhism all have at least a common goal of teaching good morals and on how to relate well with others.

All religions have a basic thought. For instance, in Christianity, it is always necessary to show concern and care for others up to a reasonable level. I see no problem with the Islamic faith when it is in the business of promoting modesty, especially to the women who belong to their faith. I cannot, however, deny that there were conflicts, battles, and blood-shedding that happened for the birth of my religion, where Appiah emphasized to illustrate his dissatisfaction with religions, but I appreciate the good fruits achieved from those battles. Basing on the same, I do not, however, advocate on violating human rights by whichever means while fighting for any religion. In fact, it should act as a guideline in the promotion of those rights.

Finally, I acknowledge that there should be equity, which encourages fairness in all outcomes even though I accept that equality might be hard to achieve where there is identical treatment either between men and women. We all have different qualities. I strongly believe that the religion that each individual belong to is supposed to be the morality source and all the knowledge about metaphysic.

If one believes that the Buddhist claims hold a lot of truth, then its worldview should be the one to guide someone, the same case with Christianity, Islamic, and other religions. We are all supposed to subject to our faith, whereas encouraging many reflections, thus doing the analysis of the same while at the same time encouraging criticism like this of Appiah.

No one can, however, boost on having the best epistemological structure to decide on which is the best worldview with respect to religion; therefore, it is important to appreciate other views that are different from your own even though we may never be in one agreement. This understanding of other views can only be achieved in the promotion of healthy conversations among the different religions or else, between religious and non-religious groups.

Works Cited

Appiah, Kwame Anthony. “The Case for Contamination.” The New York Times. 2006: 1-6.

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"Religious Diversity in "The Case for Contamination" by Appiah." IvyPanda, 30 Dec. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/religious-diversity-in-the-case-for-contamination-by-appiah/.

1. IvyPanda. "Religious Diversity in "The Case for Contamination" by Appiah." December 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-diversity-in-the-case-for-contamination-by-appiah/.


IvyPanda. "Religious Diversity in "The Case for Contamination" by Appiah." December 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-diversity-in-the-case-for-contamination-by-appiah/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Religious Diversity in "The Case for Contamination" by Appiah." December 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/religious-diversity-in-the-case-for-contamination-by-appiah/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Religious Diversity in "The Case for Contamination" by Appiah'. 30 December.

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