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M2_Notes_Elements-of-Moral-Philosophy.pdf - The Challenge...

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Notebook:PHILOSOPHYCreated:10/06/2021 15:36Updated:10/06/2021 20:55Author:[email protected]The Challenge of Cultural RelativismChapter 22.1 How Different Cultures Have Different Moral CodesDarius, King of ancient PersiaCallatians (a tribe of Indians): eats their dead fatherHerodotus in his History, illustrates a recurring theme in the literature of social science:Different cultures have different moral codesEskimos (largest group is the Inuit)Isolated settlements scattered mostly along the northern fringes of North America andGreenlandEskimos (men) often had more than one wife, they would share their wives with guests asa sign of hospitalityEskimos also seemed to have less regard for human life. Infanticide was common. Womencan kill their female babies, and this was permitted simply at the parents' discretion, withno stigma attached to it. Old people who can no longer provide for the family are left toout in the snow to die.Our own way of living seems so natural and right that for many of us it is hard to conceiveof others living so differently.2.2 Cultural Relativism"Different cultures have different moral codes"The idea of universal truth in ethics, they say, is a myth.These customs cannot be said to be "correct" of "incorrect," for that implies we have anindependent standard of right and wrong by which they can be judged.But there is no such independent standard; every standard is culture-bound.Sociologist: William Graham Sumner: "This is because they are traditional, and thereforecontain in themselves the authority of the ancestral ghosts"Cultural Relativism, as it has been called, challenges our ordinary belief in the objectivityand universality of moral truthIt says, in effect, that there is no such thing as universal truth of ethics; there are only thevarious cultural codes, and nothing more.We may distinguish the ff claims, all of which have been made by cultural relativists;1. Different societies have different moral codes.2. The moral code of a society determines what is right within that society; that is, ifthe moral code of a society says that a certain action is right, then that actionisright, at least within that society.3. There is no objective standard that can be used to judge one society's code betterthan another's.4. The moral code of our own society has no special status; it is merely one amongmany.5. There is no "universal truth" in ethics; that is, there are no moral truths that hold forall peoples at all times6. It is mere arrogance for us to try to judge the conduct of other peoples. We shouldadopt an attitude of tolerance toward the practices of other cultures.
Although it may seem that these six propositions go naturally together, they areindependent of one another, in the sense that some of them might be false even if othersare true.

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