Navigating Modern Complexities

MercatorNet is an on-line magazine about the ethics behind the headlines. Our editorial office is located in Sydney, Australia, but our contributors and readers are scattered all over the world. We have a number of blogs, too, ranging from Family Edge, about social and political trends affecting the family, to Tiger Print, about style and fashion, to Conjugality, about the same-sex marriage debate.

A project of the New Media Foundation, an Australian not-for-profit company, MercatorNet was launched in 2005 and has expanded quite a bit since then. Michael Cook, from Sydney, is the editor; Carolyn Moynihan, the deputy editor, works out of Auckland, New Zealand.

What unites our contributors is the ambition to reframe ethical and policy debates in terms of human dignity, not dollars and cents or political calculation. We place the person at the center of media debates about popular culture, the family, sexuality, bioethics, religion, and law. MercatorNet isn't liberal. It isn't conservative. We don't want to be trapped on one or the other side of the culture wars. If you want a label, try "dignitarian."

How do we define human persons? They are men and women (that's right, nothing in between) who have an intellect to know the truth and a free will. Their bodies express their spirit in a way that makes them unique in the universe. They are not machines, animals, or cost centers, but beings with a transcendent value. They need loving families to flourish. They only thrive in a society whose laws recognize their dignity.

What about God? We believe in God (the editor is a Catholic Christian), but defending human dignity is a task for people of every religion and of none. "What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world!"—that's Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act II, scene ii, to be precise), not the Bible. Religion adds clarity and conviction to the task of defending human dignity. But the arguments advanced in MercatorNet are based on universally accepted moral principles, common sense, and evidence, not faith.

We oppose moral relativism, scientism, crass commercialism, utilitarianism, and materialism—in short, any "ism" that reduces persons to ciphers and treats them as soulless machines. We delight in dissecting media clichés. We respond with logic and evidence. We do our best to be civil and courteous.

These are MercatorNet's principles. We apply them with flair and a sense of humour. If you like the package, sign up for our regular updates so you won't miss out on the fun: •

MercatorNet blogs that may be of interest to Salvo readers include:

On bioethics:
On the family:
On same-sex marriage:

Who Was Mercator?

Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594) was a great Renaissance cartographer whose work shaped the identity of the modern world. Using the latest reports of new discoveries, he created innovative maps which became known throughout Europe.

In 1569 he created the first Mercator projection: a wall map of the world on 18 separate sheets, entitled: "New and more complete representation of the terrestrial globe properly adapted for its use in navigation." Its novel feature was that longitude, latitude, and rhomb lines all appeared as straight lines on the map. Its defect, of course, was that the land masses at the top and bottom were enlarged and distorted. Nonetheless his map became an essential tool for hardy souls venturing upon unknown seas in search of wealth, knowledge, and adventure.

Mercator's life and work are metaphors for what we aspire to: craftsmanship, setting accurate courses, opening up new worlds, and venturing upon stormy, uncharted seas. His maps were accurate in the center and distorted at either side—a good image of MercatorNet's editorial policy of balance and accuracy. •

From Salvo 23 (Winter 2012)
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This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #23, Winter 2012 Copyright © 2024 Salvo |


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