Ethical Relativism Essays
A Defense of Ethical Relativism-Ruth Benedict
...A Defense of Ethical Relativism-Ruth Benedict Summary Paper Ethical relativism is the theory that holds that morality is relative to the norms of one's culture. That is, whether an action is right or wrong depends on the moral norms of the society in which it is practiced. The same action may be morally right in one society but be morally wrong in another. Benedict mentions emotions such as joy, anger, and grief, or human drives such as the sex drive, and argues that these emotions can be expressed differently in other cultures than they are expressed in our own culture. Throughout the essay Benedict discusses about various examples starting from homosexuality to the Northwest coast Indians. In Ethical relativism moral progress does not exist she proves this with the help of homosexuality, today also it is not widely accepted in many cultures but then still it depends from cultures to cultures. In her study regarding the northwest island of Melanesia she shows that different cultures have different sets of values, customs, ethics & morals. For example among the Kwakiutl tribe if a member of a community dies instead of moaning for that persons death they avenge the death by going out and killing some other individual. For me as an Indian or any other American this behavior as abnormal, unsound and extreme. However these people view their very normal and they would be even honored for doing this. Therefore we recognize that morality differs in every society, and is a...
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...Empire State College Ethical Relativism Beau Fletcher An Introduction to Philosophy Professor Nicholas Hardaker The world is an immensely diverse and unique place with societies that are radically different from one another. Relativists argue that there is no universal ethical standard to identify what is right or wrong; instead, it is up to each society to develop a moral standard that is most compatible with their distinctive culture. Ethical Relativism argues that people should act within the moral standards set forth by their specific culture. It is also important to note that a society can evolve (as well as regress) over time, making way for a revised set of moral standards that are more compatible with sociological views at that time. I found it hard to identify many of my peers as having either a relativist, or absolutist position within the discussions. Many seem to have a conglomerate of the ‘best’ ideals from both sides of the spectrum. There are however, some great examples of both absolutist and relativist minds in the class discussions, being able to look at exactly how they both apply their reasoning to arrive at radically different stances on some fundamental questions about ethics and moral standards. Before I get into defining some examples of both relativist and absolutist ideologies, I want to start with a post from week two that is an excellent example of relativism in action and that shows how radically two different society’s moral......
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Utilitarianism, Ethical Egoism, and Moral Relativism
...Utilitarianism, Ethical Egoism, and Moral Relativism Tom Gardner Ethics is a branch of philosophy that attempts to answer the questions; what’s right? What’s wrong? And why? Moral relativism is an ethics position that essentially states that people have disagreeing moral beliefs and therefore you must but tolerant of other's morals. This position leads to the problematic realization that if this is the case there can be no objective moral truths nor can there be any universal principles. Act utilitarianism and ethical egoism are two different ethics theories that attempt to respond to this challenge of moral relativism in different ways. Ethical egoism attempts to respond to the challenge of moral relativism by justifying that there is a universal principle for what actions are right and what are wrong. It is a form of consequentialism, which means it looks solely at the consequences of action to see if it is right or wrong. The defining sentence of egoism is as follows, “What's good for you is right and what's bad for you is wrong.” This phrase can be interpreted in a number of ways, the most popular one being: every person should act in their own self-interest. This means that when deciding on whether an action is good, any effect on others (mental or physical) by said action has no merit. An egoist that is measuring or justifying an action's goodness is only examining the possible positive or negative effects this action will have on him. The majority of the......
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...Ruhlman Ms. Rooney ENC-1101 19 November, 2013 Ethical Relativism At what point do we need to refocus our priorities as a civilization? Ethical relativism can best be understood by focusing on the juxtaposition of the benefits of biotechnological advancements in the food industry with the synergetic natural relationship of all living organisms. The argument supporting our technologically enhanced farming is often overlooked by the idealists of our society vying for the end of world hunger. Is it realistic to believe that without these processed foods which make up over two thirds of the world’s diet; the population would be remotely similar in size to that of a population using non-biologically engineered or enhanced foods? Has our society grown to such magnitudes merely as a result of our ability to produce food as quickly and efficiently as we currently do? At what point will humanity’s demand, exceed the Earth’s carrying capacity? This then raises the question of morality. Is it ethically right to turn our backs and deny a portion of our ever-growing population the ability to eat knowing we are beginning to challenge global sustainability? Arguably, it is reasonable to assume that if you were to take away our overly processed, biologically re-engineered foods in order to reach equilibrium, there would be a proportionate loss of human life. This however, may be the only way to ensure humanity’s survival. This is where ethical relativity has to be decided as a......
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Ethical Relativism vs Ethical Absolutism
...The question of whether ethical relativism or ethical absolutism is right has been the subject of much debate, and perhaps may never be answered for certain. It is certain, however, that at the present time, ethical relativism is in general accepted as the standard. Although I realize that given the fact that the best of philosophers have failed to give solid arguments for either ethical relativism or ethical absolutism will most likely be unable as well, however that is not my goal. Rather my purpose is simply to make us question the ethical relativism to which we have become so accustomed, and to demonstrate some reasons why ethical absolutism may be correct. We all know that people, in general, treat ethics as being subjective. Does that, however, make that right, just, and ethical? To put it simply, the answer is: no. This is obvious given the common example, "if all the other kids were jumping off a cliff, would you do it too." The masses are not always right. So now the thought in all your minds is "come on - go ahead! Prove us wrong." I'm not trying to prove anything, however I will hopefully give you enough information to make you question what is right, and if I do, then I've accomplished my goals. Lets begin with the basics. "What are absolute ethics?" Ethical Absolutism, is undeviating moral discipline. Nothing is relative; a crime is a crime, regardless of circumstances. For a quick demonstration of ethical relativism let us use the example of murder. Is it ok...
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...Ethical Relativism Name: Tutor: College: Course: Date: Introduction Several cultures, individuals and historical periods have a belief that nothing is objectively right or wrong in ethics. They hold different views concerning what should and/or what should not be done. Therefore, ethical relativism can be defined as a predisposition to make ethical choices, on the basis of what seems to be precise or reasonable according to an individual’s value system or belief. It supports the theory that argues that knowledge is relative to the limited nature of the mind, and the conditions for knowing. Ethical relativism views that there are several ethical truths that depend on the groups or individuals holding them. In the most basic terms, ethical relativism is the belief that different things are true and right, at different times, and for different people (Trevino & Nelson, (2011). Ethical relativism can be applied in the solution of several problems in the society today. One of those problems is corruption, which has affected nearly all countries of the world today. There are more than a few forms of corruption practiced today. However, in the American culture, for instance, the main forms of corruption include bribery, graft, patronage, nepotism and cronyism, kickbacks, unholy alliance and embezzlement (Paul, Miller & Paul, (2008). The two forms of corruption that were discussed and found to affect the Kentucky Fried Beef......
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...Ethical relativism Ethical relativism is when an action that is being practiced is thought to be moral in one country but can be immoral and made illegal in another country. Whether it is right or wrong depends on the social norm in that culture or part of the world. There is no universal moral standard or global law that the world has to abide by at all times. Ethical relativism can also be based on personal moral beliefs based on emotion rather than reason. The reason why ethical relativism is so pervasive in American society is because the United States is occupied with many different races and culture from all around the world. It is also a country where you have the freedom to do what you want within reason. You have a country where people are going to bring their beliefs here whether right or wrong. Also, people who were born here were taught a certain way growing up. I believe that this goes back to personal beliefs you have as a person. As people grow up, they tend to think for themselves and start to have personal beliefs and emotions whether they are right or wrong on something. I believe that people eventually will do what they even thought they know it’s morally wrong. For example, serial killers kill people and they know it morally wrong and illegal to do so but they still do it because personally they feel the act is justified for whatever reason. Another example is in a show called “Dexter”, where the main character Dexter is a serial killer.......
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...What is cultural relativism? According to dictionary.com,“the concept that the importance of a particular cultural idea varies from one society or societal subgroup to another, the view that ethical and moral standards are relative to what a particular society or culture believes to be good/bad, right/wrong.” But what does this mean in our society? It means the each culture that each of us are from have set what we view as ethical and moral. That what is okay in our circle may not be what another set of people from another culture believes is okay. Not everyone believes the same thing and those around us have shaped and molded us to believe in the same as those before us. This is what is meant by cultural relativism and how it effects our views on what is and is not ethical. While each culture has their own values and morals which leads them to believe what is ethical this does not always give someone a way out when it comes to the law or in a group other than the society they grew up in. It is important to know about the area you are in and know how each culture works. It is important to continue learning about other cultures. Learning about other cultures and societies will also help you see things differently than how you were taught while growing up. One of the social issues that each culture handles differently is cheating. This is depict in the comic that was assigned to this assignment. On the board in the classroom it states, “How important are ethics in today's......
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...Relativism was the subject of Module 4. Relativism understands ethics in terms of situations and options. What is “right” and ”wrong” in any situation is variable. “Right” is a matter of the person’s personal preference, bias, emotion, experience, culture, gender, age, socioeconomic group, and any other factor the individual deems important. In essence, the individual is his/her own higher power. Entitlement-based ethics or egoism is a special type of relativism. Deontology, the study of duty, which we explored in Modules 3 and 5, describes a variety of positions that understand ethics in terms of duty or obedience to universal principles regardless of the consequences. These universal principles could come from God, from human origins and nature, or from human reason. Instead of asking whether an action will result in a particular type of consequence, either good or bad, as is the case with utilitarianism and social contract, deontologists ask whether an action is consistent with a particular principle or rule. In Module 5, we studied the ethical deontological categorical imperative of Immanuel Kant. Kant does not believe the authority for duty-driven activity is God. Kant believes that human will is the highest authority. He believes this “highest authority" emanates from the use of human reason. In short, Perhaps Kant’s “duty” is not as absolute as one might suppose. Human ordained moral action is often subject to change according to personal preference. For Kant, the...
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...is normal if you disagree too. For the purpose of this paper, an attempt will be made to look into the concept of ethical relativism, its importance and areas of deviation from ethical absolutism. History of Ethical Relativism Though moral relativism did not become a prominent topic in philosophy or elsewhere until the twentieth century, it has ancient origins. In the classical Greek world, both the historian Herodotus and the sophist Protagoras appeared to endorse some form of relativism. The early Sophist Greek philosopher Protagoras provides an early philosophical precursor to modern Moral Relativism in his assertion that "man is the measure of all things". The Greek historian Herodotus (c. 484 - 420 B.C.) observed that each society typically regards its own belief system and way of doing things as better than all others. Plato also pointed out that much of what is believed to be “fact” is actually “opinion”. Even earlier, Indian Jainism espoused as one of its basic principles the Anekantavada principle that truth and reality are perceived differently from different points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth. However, the increased awareness of moral diversity (especially between Western and non-Western cultures) on the part of Europeans in the modern era is an important antecedent to the contemporary concern with moral relativism. During this time, the predominant view among Europeans and their colonial progeny was that their moral values......
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...Thought-Piece 2 Relativism, Cultural and Moral People in different cultures, as well as people within a given culture, hold different moral views on particular issues. Some members of our society believe that abortion is immoral, and others believe that it is morally permissible. Thus, it is very important that we distinguish what is often called cultural and moral relativism. Differing views regarding the morality of a given action or practice may be the result of a number of factors. Two societies may basically and ultimately disagree on moral principles, but the disagreement may also be on many other levels. For instance, two societies may adhere to a basic principle: What helps the society flourish is moral and what hinders it is immoral. Differing conditions therefore provide a reason for holding different actions to be moral or immoral. A society’s factual beliefs also affect what it holds to be moral or immoral. Some societies believe what is false. To some extent, this is probably true of all societies. However, most societies are aware that they obtain more and more factual knowledge as they develop and progress in life. Just as a society may be mistaken about the proofs, so it may be mistaken about some of its moral judgements. The saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” has limited applicability. One clearly should observe local etiquette and other such customs in countries other than one’s own. So, when in Rome, one should indeed do as the......
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...Ethical Relativism 1. Ethical Relativism: In this lecture, we will discuss a moral theory called ethical relativism (sometimes called “cultural relativism”). Ethical Relativism: The view that what is morally right or wrong is dependent upon what one’s culture believes is right or wrong. In short, if your society or culture BELIEVES that some action is morally wrong, then it IS morally wrong for everyone within that society. Businesspeople often claim something similar. They say, for instance, that businesses operate under their own system of morality. What is deemed to be right by some business IS right for that business. This makes morality relative. For instance, if one society says cannibalism is morally wrong, while another says it is morally permissible, then the fact of whether or not cannibalism is morally wrong will just be a relative one—namely, whether or not it is wrong for someone will just depend upon which society they are in. We will now ask the question: Does some action become right or wrong just because one’s society, or employer, SAYS it is right or wrong? Or rather, is it the case that there are some moral standards that apply to ALL businesses and societies, regardless of whether or not those societies believe in those standards? 2. The Argument From Disagreement: Why believe that morality is relative? Relativists often say that widespread moral disagreement proves that their view is true. They say: 1. Different people have different......
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...Fabio Cuetara Philosophy October 15, 2011 Right or Wrong Ethical Relativism is the belief that nothing is objectively right or wrong and that the definition of right or wrong depends on the prevailing view of a particular individual, culture, or historical period. Different cultures have different ethical and moral standards that might seem odd or wrong but if they are justifiable and or not completely forced upon a group then there should be nothing wrong with said act. I agree with ethical relativism, to a certain extent, the fact that people in our modern culture criticize or judge people in others for what they do and why they do it is morally wrong. We have never had an absolute ethical standard in history so just because we think something is right or wrong doesn’t mean it is, different people respond differently to certain ideas and actions. Ethical Relativism shows us that some practices are ethically right in their respective cultures and that we should respect other people’s ethical decisions if they are made out of necessity or choice by the group of people involved. What one culture might think is absolutely horrible and wrong, might be completely acceptable and necessary in another. In other cultures some decisions are made for the survival of the civilization. The Eskimos sometimes leave there new born female children behind in the frigid climate to die. At first glance that seems incredibly wrong and inhumane, but looking further into the......
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...Relativism: A term underlined by consequence. Abstract Relativism argues that there are no absolute truths. It suggests that the concept of right and wrong in any given human behavior can only be determined by applying its relevance to the culture of the given subject. Culture “A” may believe in and practice female circumcision while culture “B” may unequivocally oppose it. In both cultures, there is a fundamental difference in what they believe to be the truth about this ritual. One person might view it as custom, or a rite, or a sacred practice. Another may view it as a brutal and primitive method of control. It all depends on where you are standing, so with regard to personal, cultural, and ethical beliefs, the only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths. However, this does not discredit the notion of universal moral requirements. Absolute truths do exist. They exist because there are consequences to every action, and no matter what context, perception, or point of view one possesses, the concept of action versus consequence is a universal constant. Genocide kills many people. That is not a belief. If you commit genocide, it is absolutely true that people will die. It is a consequence. If we all desired the consequences of genocide then we would all be gone. Fortunately, most of us do not wish to commit genocide, but for those who do, they feel that they have a good enough reason to do so because there is a desired consequence of that......
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Ethical Relativism Versus Absolutism in Xerox
...Jonathan Temporal UNSW ASB Student number 3413771 Xerox’s actions are reminiscent of ethical relativism. As derived from Donaldson’s (1996) article, ethical relativism holds that no single code of ethics is superior than others, and so there is no absolute right and wrong (Donaldson, 1996). Ethical absolutism holds that regardless of one’s location or environment, there is only one correct set of ethical principles (Donaldson, 1996). As a business, Xerox’s main concern is making a profit. As long as it profits, it doesn’t see anything unethical in selling machines with capabilities greater than what customers actually need. Even if Xerox did see this as not being completely ethical, it compensates for this by doing a good deed – donating a percentage of its profits to charity. Hence, Xerox’s standards of what is ethical behaviour is very flexible and changes depending on its other actions. Donaldson (1996, p. 7) enumerates three core values that define “minimum ethical standards for all companies”. Evaluated against these core values, I believe Xerox’s actions are not unethical. These actions do not physically harm the customers, nor do they deny them of basic human values (Donaldson 1996). For every sale made, Xerox donates to charity. To me, this reciprocity satisfies the “Golden Rule” (Donaldson 1996, p. 7). Finally, Xerox did not force or deceive customers into buying their more expensive machines. Xerox can be said to have encouraged customers to......
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Ethical Relativism And Cultural Relativism Essay
In explaining Cultural Relativism, it is useful to compare and contrast it with Ethical Relativism. Cultural Relativism is a theory about morality focused on the concept that matters of custom and ethics are not universal in nature but rather are culture specific. Each culture evolves its own unique moral code, separate and apart from any other. Ethical Relativism is also a theory of morality with a view of ethics similarly engaged in understanding how morality comes to be culturally defined. However, the formulation is quite different in that from a wide range of human habits, individual opinions drive the culture toward distinguishing normal “good” habits from abnormal “bad” habits. The takeaway is that both theories share the guiding principle that morality is bounded by culture or society.
Implicit in the basic formulations for both theories, the moral code of a culture is neither superior nor inferior to any another. The codes of individual cultures are just different and there is no standard or basis upon which to perform any type of comparison. Therefore, under both theories, the lack of standards across cultures implies that attempts to judge relative correctness or incorrectness between them cannot be justified.
For Cultural Relativism, it is perfectly normal that something one culture sees as moral, another may see as immoral. There is no connection between them so they are never in conflict relative to their moral beliefs. However, within the context of Ethical Relativism there’s a significant difference. Normally, two cultures will possess varying proportions of the same normal and abnormal habits yet from a cross-cultural standpoint, what is abnormal in one culture can be seen as properly normal in another. There is no resulting conflict over consideration of what’s normal because they are just expressing a difference of opinion over the selection of a dominant good habit. These theories assure that the morality of two cultures must be viewed as strictly independent.
Within Cultural Relativism, a moral code exists in an evolved state, reflecting almost an absolute framework for it’s members, available for consultation as the need dictates. However, Ethical Relativism sets forth that opinions of what constitutes morally good habits will continuously vary within a culture and even tend toward growing more extreme over time. This static vs. dynamic element distinguishes between these two...
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