09-11-08[1] - Motives Undermined II o Judgment: being...

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Motives Undermined II o Judgment: being committed to objective moral truths does not necessarily create a problem when it comes to judging cultures. This is because: Judgment can be suspended because one wants to wait until one understands. Judgment can be based on specific aspects of a culture, or specific practices. One might think it is impossible, or next to impossible, to form global judgments about cultures Judgment doesn’t need to lead to any particular form of action Judgments do not need to be unidirectional; others can help us learn to better criticize ourselves Problems with Cultural Relativism I o Recall the cultural relativist moral principle: an action is wrong for a person if and only if the norms of that person’s culture forbid that action. o Problem 1: we need to know what a culture is and where cultures begin and end. o Problem 2: if I belong to more than one culture, which culture determines what I ought or ought not to do? o Problem 3: cultural relativism makes it too easy to work out what is wrong in contexts where we recognize that there is an obvious, widespread norm. o Problem 4: if there is disagreement within a culture, how do we determine the correct answer to a moral question? Is this merely a matter of counting hands? o Problem 5: cultural relativism removes the possibility of moral disagreements between people from different cultures, and thus makes criticism of seemingly bad acts and practices in other cultures illegitimate. o Problem 6: Cultural relativists cannot make sense of the idea of moral progress. Moral Agreement o It is common for cultural relativists to focus on examples of cross cultural disagreement, rather than on examples of cross-cultural agreement. o For example: all cultures recognize rules prohibiting murder and deception, and that parents (or their surrogates) have a duty to take care of infants. o
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09-11-08[1] - Motives Undermined II o Judgment: being...

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