The Theory of Ethical Relativism

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The Theory of Ethical Relativism

The theory behind ethical relativism states that ethical standards are not concrete for all societies and times, but rather are relative to the standards of individual societies and time periods. I disagree with this theory because societies should be judged by their moral beliefs on the foundations that time doesn't change what is morally right and wrong and their should be more emphasis based on the individual rights as opposed to respecting the morals of that individual's society.

Allowing ourselves, as a society, to say that a time or a location makes any ethical belief or theory practiced by the masses of that time/place right and that it should be respected by people of other cultures is ignorant. There are a set of universal rights all human beings should enjoy no matter the location or time period, and those cultures that violate these rights shouldn't be embraced for being different but rather shunned upon for not recognizing the universal basic rights of the individual, despite the fact that it is hard to say what are ALL of these basic human rights. During the seventeenth century and up until the end of the nineteenth century slavery existed in America. Can we just say well slavery isn't ok now because there are laws against it, and it is wrong, but back then it was ok because it was the norm? If we cannot apply our code of ethics to that time period to judge it how about taking their code of ethics and applying it to our time, would that work? No, I doubt anyone would support slavery in the 21st century. It is one thing to respect the variety of different beliefs from culture to culture throughout the world and throughout time but we must also as a responsible society recognize when 'universal' ethical beliefs have been exchanged for unethical ones.

Ethical relativism places more emphasis on the society and not enough on the individual of that society. For example lets say that in some imaginary culture it is perfectly normal to kill or maim people if they annoy you. Ethical relativism says that being of a culture where this is not an accepted practice I cannot say that this is wrong, rather I must respect their culture thereby placing more emphasis on respecting a culture then the rights of the individuals to life no matter how annoying they happen to be.
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