Chapter 3, Ethical Relativism
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Chapter 3, Ethical Relativism

Course: PHIL 160, Spring 2007

School: Tennessee Martin

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Ethical Relativism Chapter 3 How to deal with moral differences: Moral nihilism is nothing, therefore nothing is ultimately right or wrong A type of meta-ethic Problems with MN There Moral skepticism Cannot know if there are any moral truths Problems with MS How to deal with moral differences Ethical Relativism: Individual relativism Moral values are only personal inner states which cannot be...

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Relativism Chapter Ethical 3 How to deal with moral differences: Moral nihilism is nothing, therefore nothing is ultimately right or wrong A type of meta-ethic Problems with MN There Moral skepticism Cannot know if there are any moral truths Problems with MS How to deal with moral differences Ethical Relativism: Individual relativism Moral values are only personal inner states which cannot be compared with other's and thus are only valid for the person who hold them. Problems with IR Cultural relativism How to deal with moral differences Universalism: Soft universalism There are a few universal moral truths that humans have in common. Hard universalism One (not many) moral absolute code Basic Tenants of Cultural Relativism 1. Different societies have different moral codes There is no objective standard that can be used to judge one societal code to be better that another 2. Basic Tenants of Cultural Relativism, continued 3. The moral code of our own society has no special status; it is merely one among many There is no "universal truth" in ethics that is, there is are no moral truths that hold for all peoples at all times 4. Basic Tenants of Cultural Relativism, continued 5. The moral code of the society determines what is right within that society; that is, if the moral code of a society says that a certain action is right, then that action is right, at least within that society It is mere arrogance for us to judge the conduct of other peoples. We should adopt an attitude of tolerance towards the practices of other cultures. 6. Problems with Cultural Relativism 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. No criticism or praise of other cultures Majority Rule What constitutes a"Majority"? Professor Actual or Morality? Can Tolerance be a universal value? Problems with Cultural Relativism, continued 6. 7. All claims about reality are not up for grabs What about basic human rights? The Concept of Multicultural Education B. Parekh 1. Mono-cultural education is unlikely to awaken (the school child's) curiosity about other societies and cultures either because he is not exposed to them at all or because they are presented in uncomplimentary terms, or both. 2. Mono-cultural education is unlikely to develop the faculty of imagination. The Concept of Multicultural Education B. Parekh 3. Mono-cultural education stunts to growth of the critical faulty. 4. Mono-cultural education tends to breed arrogance and insensitivity. 5. Mono-cultural education provides a fertile ground for racism The Concept of Multicultural Education B. Parekh Parekh concludes that, "Multi-cultural education is therefore an education in freedom freedom from inherited biases and narrow feelings and sentiments, as well as freedom to explore other cultures and perspectives and make one's own choices in full awareness of available and practicable alternatives"(142) The Concept of Multicultural Education B. Parekh Questions: 1. In what way is this excerpt relevant in a chapter on Cultural Relativism? 2. What are we suppose to conclude, given this essay? Based on what evidence? The Secret of Joy A. Walker Questions 1. Explain how this story [about female genital mutilation] can be viewed as an attack on ethical relativism. How might an ethical relativist respond to Walker's attack? 2. In view of the theme of female genital mutilation, do you find ethical relativism to be an appealing or a problematic moral theory? Explain.

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