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Ethical Relativism

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Ethical Relativism What is right and wrong is a widely opinionated discrepancy among the

human race. It varies between cultures, societies, religion,

traditions, and endless influential factors. Ethical relativism is

described by John Ladd as the “doctrine that the moral rightness and

wrongness of actions varies from society and that there are no

absolute universal moral standards binding on all men at all times.

Accordingly, it holds that whether or not it is right for an

individual to act in a certain way depends on or is relative to the

society to which he belongs”(Pojman, 24). Within the meaning of

ethical relativism we can derive two theses; cultural relativism and

the dependency thesis. Ethical relativism is a problematic theory

because there are so many differences within cultures, and individual

choices might not always be morally right choices. Because of this,

what is culturally acceptable is not always morally right. Ethical

relativism also has some objections towards the more specific theories

of subjectivism and conventionalism.

Ethical relativism is supported due to the narrowing view of

ethnocentrism, which is causing great “prejudice tantamount to racism

and sexism” (Pojman, 25). Society is moving away from their

ethnocentric view of the world, and allowing for more diversity in

what is culturally right and wrong. Moral positions are being based

on what their society is following or sees as ideal norms. Because of

this turn to what one’s society feels what is right and wrong there is

skepticism on these universal princi...

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...e ideal if

the world followed a set of universal morals in which everyone could

agree upon, but in a realistic setting, everyone is different in

either what they believe, or how culture has influenced them.

Cultures have always differed in what is thought to be morally

acceptable, and always will because of their ethnocentric view on

different cultures. Ethical relativism will always be problematic

because the world has trouble accepting new ideas, morals, and into

their own culture, and with a universe becoming so culturally diverse

and different it is hard for individuals to accept something

different.

Works Cited

Plato. Republic. Trans. G.M.A. Grube. Revised by C.D.C. Reeve.

Indianapolis: 1992.

Pojman, Louis P.. Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong. 4th ed.

Toronto: Thomson Learning, 2002.
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