Did so mere individual belief about what is right and

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Unformatted text preview: flicted on others. did So mere individual belief about what is right and what is wrong So cannot morally justify someone’s actions. cannot There must be something else that justifies her action (or not), There some moral reasons for or against the action. some So most people who find moral relativism attractive do not find So subjectivism attractive. Instead, the alternative formulationsubjectivism which involves appealing to cultural relativism- seems to be which favored: the rightness of an action is determined by what people in a given culture by and large believe. people 10 Moral Relativism Moral The major consideration in favor of this theory is that it seems The to reflect actual moral practice. That cultural differences in moral belief and attitudes exist is a certainty. moral Burial practices vary from culture to culture, female circumcision is practiced in some culture (Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leon, Somalia, Chad, Egypt,135 million) and condemned in others, certain animals are approved eating in one culture but not another and the list could go on. not These differences exist across time as well as geography. These There is huge temporal variation in cultural belief about moral issues. Women’s voting right appeared ridiculous to an American President until 1776. There is a difference between how people in the USA feel about equality and the scope of equality today as opposed to over 200 years ago. as Some writers particularly anthropologists such as Ruth Benedict, Some believe that this fact establishes the truth of moral relativism. This 11 view is attractive to many because it is viewed as tolerant of moral Moral Relativism Moral Moral relativism is based on a recognition of cultural Moral diversity-there is no right or wrong that transcends a given culture, no universal truth to morality. culture, It is important to note that relativism is a radically strong It claim. It is not to be confused with the view that rightness is somehow context sensitive- which is fairly uncontroversial view. Instead, relativism maintains that there are no universal moral truth at all, where ‘universal’ is understood as ‘across all countries’ precisely because moral quality is understood relative to belief of persons in a given society. understood A person who believe that the claim ‘It is wrong to cause person unnecessary sufferings’ might vary from context to context depending on the facts of the situation. depending So for example, it might be wrong for Joseph to buy a So carpet in a situation in which the carpet was made using 12 child labor. child Moral Relativism Moral We may disagree with what people believe about torture in one We culture, we can always adopt a tolerant attitude by holding as relativism would seem to demand that ‘Torture is not okay by me but it is okay for them.’ me And tolerance is moral virtue. If there is no objective truth to And appeal to, then criticisms to various cultural practices seem unjustified. unjustified. What we call ‘morality’ is a just a construct of various societies What and cultures each with its own set of norms and not subject to criticism or praise from outsiders. Of course we are free to ask whether or not tolerance is , universally a virtue. If so, relativism is false. If not, then what about cultures that reject tolerance themselves? about Relativism also seems to offer a principled way of approaching Relativism moral disagreement, at least at the cultural level. If someone wants to know whether or not stealing is wrong, he just has to determine what the prevailing beliefs are in a given culture. determine 13 Moral Relativism Moral but it would not be wrong for Alexandra to buy a carpet but given that it was made without harming anyone. given Thus, it is logical to say that whether or not it is acceptable Thus, to buy a carpet depends upon the circumstances- but not in any way that undercut moral universalism. in The Universalist can claim that the relevant moral truth is The that it is wrong to cause unnecessary sufferings- and this holds both of the cases mentioned above. holds Relativism denies that claims such as this have any Relativism universal or objective standing. Truth of moral claims depends completely on the beliefs that are common to the culture in which the judgement is made. Those beliefs and practices can vary dramatically across cultures. practices 14 Moral Relativism Moral However, this reality just seems to favor a moral However, confirmity. Moral progress is often achieved through the efforts of rebellious individuals with beliefs that do not conform to popular cultural beliefs. It seems odd to say that they were wrong and that everyone else was right, until just happened to start sharing their beliefs. until But relativism has its limitations too. Tolerance of the But behavior of others only goes far. As long as there is a view that rights-moral rights are being violated, most people will not think tolerance in that context a virtue. This indicates that there is some universality to morality in that oppression is wrong, no matter what...
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This note was uploaded on 02/11/2014 for the course BSC 2501 taught by Professor Frigerio during the Fall '12 term at Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research.

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