Lecture Notes - Philosophy 1B03 Society, Law and Society...

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Philosophy 1B03 – Society, Law and SocietyPHILOS 1B03 Lecture 1: IntroductionJanuary 7th2014Men are social animals – choose to be with othersAristotleNature has made us want to live with others, much like animals such as dogs and beesHowever, difference is that the way in which we interact does not come naturally –government, taxes etcSocial Political Philosophy is a discipline concerned with the best way of arrangingour collective lives – dictated by man rather than intrinsic motivation.Concerned with the best way to arrange collective lives.Normativity:Normative purpose: establishes a position of what OUGHT to be the case (ie right orwrong)Problematic: maybe there isn’t a best way, only opinions about it. Who is to saythere is a best way of doing something? How do we decide? Democratic system may notbe intrinsically better than an autocratic system. No truth of the matter; what is better forsome may not be better for others.Relativism: (CR Cultural Relativism)There are noindependentstandards by which we can evaluate normative claims:Only cultural practices – different moral codes throughout different cultures exist.Examples of cultural relativity include polygamy, euthanasia, tobacco/marijuana use,homosexuality.Cultural practices are merely one among manyRadical relativism: truth may only be truth for one person rather than others.Appeal of Relativsm:Explain widespread disagreement over moral and social practiseSeems to promote attitude of respect and tolerance for other culturesSeems to be only alternative to strict objectivism/absolutism (only one right thing todo in political institution or moral code)
If truth is relative, no need to condemn others for their difference of truth. Cannotcriticise their way of doing things as “wrong” or “right,” promotes attitude of tolerance.Problems of Relativism (CounterConsiderations)Why should we believe that cultural relativism is true? Is that enough of a reason tothink that there are no objective truths, that CR recognizes that different cultures havedifferent beliefs?Does not determine nor negate any absolute truthsDifficult to legitimately criticize the beliefs of other (or your own) culture. Says thatits wrong for us but not others, can we not say it is right/wrong for all? What basis forcriticism?Calls moral progress to doubt – say that attitudes are better in modern society thanthey were in the past. However, if we are true relativists, we can only say they are different,what criteria do we use to call them better?Connection between relativism and tolerance is questionable: “we ought to be tolerantof other cultures” is a moral claimIf this claim is objective, then relativism is wrongIf this claim is relative, then relativism does not support an attitude of tolerance – cognitivedissonance arisesTherefore, Link between tolerance and relativism is weaker than what some may think.

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Term
Fall
Professor
Dr.WilWaluchow

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