Unformatted text preview: Lengbeyer NE203 relativism handout 9.8.2009
MORAL REASONING: RELATIVISM & ITS ALTERNATIVES On a given ethical question about how to actfbe, how many TRUE answers are possible? (Nihilism) Objectivism cultural Reiativism individual Relativism Objectivism ('0'): On any given ethical question. there is at most I true answer. determined by how the universe really is The O idea: There is a single ethical reality, and a single universal set of moral standards. which holds for all
people at all times in all places. Ethical questions have objectively right answers.
answers that are unambiguous and unequivocal. Relativism (‘R’): True ethicai claims “are easy to come by, since truth depends on believers‘ opinions. practices, or
conventions, not objective facts The R idea: NO objective truths or One True Account of ethics. NO universal standards of right/wrong.
All ethical truth is local. -) So. even when others disagree with me, their ethical
judgments are validitrue (for them). so i have no basis for criticism. 0 CULTURAL (CR): What is rightiwrong (to do. or to be) is whatever one’s cultural community 0 INDIVIDUAL (IR): whatever each person thinks is right/wrong thinks is rightiwrong
Evaluating Relativism (‘R’): 3 methods (i) The “CULTURAL DIFFERENCES ARGUMENT" for R: (ii) The ARGUMENT FROM TOLERANCE: I. Either O or R. I. Either O or R. 2. Ethical Diversity. 2. Tolerance: One ought to (I) accept. and 3. Ther I re is fal e. (2) not interfere with. ethical standards. 4. Therefore. R. practices. 8: opinions different from one's own. 3 0 im i on- ole nce. 4. eref re is fal. 5. Therefore, R.
(iii) EvaluateRvia its IMPLICATIONS&CONSEQUENCES: - - - - - - - . — - . - . - - . — - - — - l. R entails Y. I. Belief in R leads to Z
2. Y i fals or im Iau ible . 2. is d b v id .
3. Therefore. R is false (or implausible). 3. Therefore. belief in R should be avoided. 7‘ "Either O or R” But is there no alternative to O and R? An alternative view: PLURALISM l lhere is an ob‘ective ethical reali , but it’s too com licated, with multi Ie relevant factors. for one consistent outlook to
capture it all9 'P’: Ethical questions sometimes have multiple (but not unlimited) correct answers-—& many false ones!
(Due to irrelevant factors, weak evidence, false premises, bad logic) [Ni 0 P CR IR C Best reasoner takes account of all relevant factorsitheonies I NE203 syllabus built along P lines: Each weeit’s approach shows different considerations relevant to
' the ethical judgment of a wise decisionrnaker ...
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- Spring '09