Morality is, in many ways, a thorn in philosophy’s foot, struggling to abide by the standard of intellectual rigor typically held in the philosophical tradition. This is not particularly surprising. There is a high emotional and personal investment placed in morality and as such, even great minds can falter in their logical demands of morality. The issue of objectivism in ethics is particularly problematic. Lewis Vaughn’s arguments against ethical relativism in Bioethics show the difficulty of dismissing said theory’s possibility, all the while failing to provide his own evidence on behalf of ethical objectivism. Vaughn’s own definition of ethics and morality provide the standard of intellectual rigor that shall be used throughout the essay: …show more content…
To his credit, Vaughn acknowledges that “diversity of moral judgements among cultures is a reality” (15). He also rightly states that just because such diversity exists does not mean that there is no objective moral truth. I can also find no issue with Vaughn’s assertion that such disagreements “may simply indicate that there is an objective fact of the matter that someone (or everyone) is wrong about” (15). However, neither does it logically follow that there is an objective moral truth – I will return to this issue in a moment. Vaughn then goes on make a similar argument against cultural relativism as he did subjective relativism, “if a culture genuinely approves of an action, then there can be no question about the action’s moral rightness” (16). As with his assertion that a murder’s moral acceptance of his crime implies its moral rightness, this claim confuses cultural relativism’s larger point, which is that morality is an agreed upon cultural convention, not an objective law like those governing like gravity or evolution. Outside cultures would not be wrong to question another culture’s moral rightness. They would simply be doing so according to their own moral standard instead of some objective one. Vaughn then goes onto say “cultural relativism implies there cannot be any such thing as moral progress” (16). The question arises, why are we assuming that there must be moral progress? His following argument is that social reformers cannot exist in cultural relativism. This claim arises from an overly narrow definition of a culture. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. may have been wrong according to the conservative white culture of his time, he was right according to the African American culture of his time. Cultural relativism does not deny that cultural trends can shift over time, so the modern prevalence of his morality does not undermine the theory. Cultural relativism
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Many seem to have falling prey to the seduction of ethical relativism, because it plays in to their ethnocentric egoistic moral belief. Individuals such as Pojman are able to critically evaluate this moral principle and not fall victim like his or hers lay counter parts. We will attempt to analyze the theory of ethical relativism, by check the validity of this ethical theory, and evaluate its ethical concepts. With these procedures we will find if it is competent as an ethical principle to adhere by. Then evaluate Louis Pojman critique on ethical relativism and analyze does he successfully refute relativism position. We will also analyze objectivism; the ethical theory which Pojman erects in the place of ethical relativism.
Cahn, Steven M. and Peter Markie, Ethics: History, Theory and Contemporary Issues. 4th Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
In part VI of Ronald Munson’s Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Bioethics, five main ethical theories are explored. The theories and their “truths,” along with their difficulties, will be challenged in accepting them as absolutes. An absolute is an immutable, universal truth about reality; but none of these theories as a whole hold up to be an absolute. They remain ethical theories, not ethical facts. (Absolutes, commandments, guidelines, inferences, and convictions)
Finally, in Beckwith’s fourth point, he evaluates the absurd consequences that follow moral relativist’s arguments. In his final critique, Beckwith uses typical philosophical examples that Mother Teresa was morally better than Adolf Hitler, rape is always wrong, and it is wrong to torture babies. Beckwith argues that for anyone to deny these universal claims is seen as absurd, yet it concludes with moral objectivism that there are in fact universally valid moral positions no matter the culture from which those individuals
Sandel addresses these views that us as humans have come to acknowledge as our own through bioethical debate. “We live in a world today where ‘science moves faster than moral understanding,’(Lewens)”
Cultural Relativism is a moral theory which states that due to the vastly differing cultural norms held by people across the globe, morality cannot be judged objectively, and must instead be judged subjectively through the lense of an individuals own cultural norms. Because it is obvious that there are many different beliefs that are held by people around the world, cultural relativism can easily be seen as answer to the question of how to accurately and fairly judge the cultural morality of others, by not doing so at all. However Cultural Relativism is a lazy way to avoid the difficult task of evaluating one’s own values and weighing them against the values of other cultures. Many Cultural Relativist might abstain from making moral judgments about other cultures based on an assumed lack of understanding of other cultures, but I would argue that they do no favors to the cultures of others by assuming them to be so firmly ‘other’ that they would be unable to comprehend their moral decisions. Cultural Relativism as a moral theory fails to allow for critical thoughts on the nature of morality and encourages the stagnation
Ethics can be defined as "the conscious reflection on our moral beliefs with the aim of improving, extending or refining those beliefs in some way." (Dodds, Lecture 2) Kantian moral theory and Utilitarianism are two theories that attempt to answer the ethical nature of human beings. This paper will attempt to explain how and why Kantian moral theory and Utilitarianism differ as well as discuss why I believe Kant's theory provides a more plausible account of ethics.
Moral relativism is the concept that people’s moral judgement can only goes as far a one person’s standpoint in a matter. Also, one person’s view on a particular subject carries no extra weight than another person. What I hope to prove in my thesis statement are inner judgements, moral disagreements, and science are what defend and define moral relativism.
James Rachels' article, "Morality is Not Relative," is incorrect, he provides arguments that cannot logically be applied or have no bearing on the statement of contention. His argument, seems to favor some of the ideas set forth in cultural relativism, but he has issues with other parts that make cultural relativism what it is.
Some of the deficiencies in the way cultural relativism addresses moral problems, according to Holmes; are that they remain impractical, they are subject to change depending on where you live, and that people tolerate the different cultures. As a professional business person, I agree with Holmes analysis. Allowing others perceptions or beliefs to get away with our own personal beliefs would be contradicting ourselves. It is important to stand up for our beliefs, and help educate others on ethical issues. Over time we can make a difference in the world by modeling moral beliefs and ethics.
Moral relativism maintains that objective moral truth does not exist, and there need not be any contradiction in saying a single action is both moral and immoral depending on the relative vantage point of the judge. Moral relativism, by denying the existence of any absolute moral truths, both allows for differing moral opinions to exist and withholds assent to any moral position even if universally or nearly universally shared. Strictly speaking, moral relativism and only evaluates an action’s moral worth in the context of a particular group or perspective. The basic logical formulation for the moral relativist position states that different societies have empirically different moral codes that govern each respective society, and because there does not exist an objective moral standard of judgment, no society’s moral code possesses any special status or maintains any moral superiority over any other society’s moral code. The moral relativist concludes that cultures cannot evaluate or criticize other cultural perspectives in the absence of any objective standard of morality, essentially leveling all moral systems and limiting their scope to within a given society.
Moral relativism, as Harman describes, denies “that there are universal basic moral demands, and says different people are subject to different basic moral demands depending on the social customs, practices, conventions, and principles that they accept” (Harman, p. 85). Many suppose that moral feelings derive from sympathy and concern for others, but Harman rather believes that morality derives from agreement among people of varying powers and resources provides a more plausible explanation (Harman, p. 12).The survival of these values and morals is based on Darwin’s natural selection survival of the fittest theory. Many philosophers have argued for and against what moral relativism would do for the world. In this essay, we will discuss exactly what moral relativism entails, the consequences of taking it seriously, and finally the benefits if the theory were implemented.