Of the key concepts of this chapter, the one that most stuck out to me is the notion of relativism. Relativism suggests that there are no true universal morals or values. To understand this, you must put yourself in the shoes of a person whose culture differs from your own. In America, murder is wrong unless it is deemed an act of self-defense or to prevent some greater evil. In contrast, the country of Albania is home to blood wars, a vicious cycle of killing where the family of a murder victim takes the life of a male relative of their family member’s killer. In America, that would be morally wrong, but in Albania, it’s not. While this is an extreme instance of relativity, it helps to illustrate the fact that all morals are the same across the board.
The idea of relativism is important to me because many individuals judge the culture or cultures of another country or group of people because their values are not consistent with his or her own. Why do many Americans frown upon Middle Eastern and/or Muslim countries where women wear hijabs, burkas, and other head coverings? Select groups of these Americans even advocate for the changing of such Muslim traditions....
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...re, situation, or time period, then how do we make laws to prevent “unethical” behaviors. Laws vary by state, and in some cases by county. Prostitution is legal in certain counties in Nevada. If a prostitute from a county where prostitution is legal sells sex in a county where prostitution is illegal, is that prostitute unethical in the county where it’s illegal? Is he or she legally wrong?
Given that no norm is universal, how do lawmakers deem an act illegal? Feinberg’s Moral Limits of Criminal Law provides a framework to determine if an act can be prohibited. My belief is that, as a general rule, lawmakers should go with the norms of the majority in that particular culture. It’s a delicate balance, though, and going with the majority is not always the way to go. Each situation needs to be taken with context and given much consideration before laws are enacted.
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