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Ethical Relativism

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,213 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,610 Views

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Ethical Relativism

#5

Ethical relativism is an idea that appeals to many people because tolerance is a main ingredient in it. In this country, we are aware of the increasing enmity with which the world views the U.S., and we often point to our supposed arrogance as a causative factor. In light of that, tolerance seems to be the correct counter to arrogance, so I believe that we exist in a state of reaction to that arrogance, such that the desire for tolerance is artificially inflated. I will attempt to show why I believe this to be a false direction, and why the issue of criticizing other cultures being such an anathema is false.

Ethical relativism states that there is nothing objective about morality, that each culture defines it differently and that however each culture has defined it is in fact right and moral for those people in that culture. Even in a segregated world where individual cultures never overlapped or came into contact with each other, this theory has internal problems. Our text mentions several criticisms such as the fact that this ideal leads to the suppression of the minority opinion, that there is a difference in the professed morality and what we actually do, and the very nature of the parameters and stability of the majority. Another criticism is one of metaethics, and asks us what exactly we mean by the term culture, what are its parameters? How are they decided upon?

These issues would exist and need to be dealt with to assure internal consistency even in that segregated world, but the real problem with the theory is that that world does not exist. We live in an integrated world in which cultural overlap occurs everyday. Our cultures and nations have become interdependent. It is easy, with the current geo-political and geo-economic climate, to see how the world has gotten here, and it is easier to see that it will only become more integrated as time goes on. Given that, it is necessary to have a moral theory that takes the cultural integration into account. More specifically, what is needed when any two parties interact is the ability to solve problems. Problems will arise, support for that assumption needn't even be presented. We must then be assured that we have in place a method of dealing with such problems.

Ethical relativism not only doesn't provide us with such a tool, it actually condemns the effort, since the resolve of any situation involving cultural differences must by nature involve infringing on one culture to back down and acquiesce. This is of course moot if the problem is one of a nature that can be compromised on, of course then it wouldn't even qualify as an issue worth evaluating on this level. So we are left with no method of solving problems with. This means that though there are certain basic rights that most cultures agree on, we are at a loss

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