Cultural Relativism is a theory stating the idea that cultural norms and ideas differ from culture to culture. In addition, Cultural Relativism says that there are no universal standards and truth in ethics. It is relative to the culture to determine whether a moral standard is right or wrong. There is no objective standards judging other cultures code as inferior or superior to another. Thus, since cultural relativism states that we can’t judge other cultures moral codes, then we must be tolerant of them.
This can be interpreted as self interest is part of, or is, morality, which can lead to justifying actions which go against the consensus of society e.g. lying, stealing and killing. For this reason Kant believes it is better to live according to reason as opposed to desire. For example, if you wanted to buy something which was more expensive than you could afford your reason would tell you it wasn’t possible to have it, not desire as it cannot realise this. Kant sees this as similar to making moral decisions as the moral choice is not always the desired choice and therefore not in your self interest.
According to this theory, what is morally good for one person or culture might be morally bad for another, and vice versa: there are no moral absolutes. There is also an individual form of moral relativism. Thus, this is where morality varies between individuals, it is called subjectivism. Subjectivism, on the other hand, involves our beliefs or perceptions, in figuring out what is good and what is bad. Narveson explains subjectivity through morals, which he believes to be “subjective.” Narveson believes that “they are merely a “matter of opinion,” there being no such thing as moral knowledge, nothing about can be really correct or incorrect” (Narveson, MM, p. 3).Thus, whether peanut butter tastes good, for example, varies from person to person; for some people this is true, for others it is false.
The philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead suggests: ‘Morality is what the majority then and there happens to like and immorality is what they dislike’. With reference to human beings being good, does this confirms why people behave in a certain way like they do? Engeli et al. (2010) argues: “Aside from the usual topics on political agendas, such as welfare state reforms, deteriorating environmental conditions and the current financial crises, a set of typical items, known as ‘morality issues’,
Secondly this essay will discuss the logical concept of absolute truth while highlighting a few weaknesses of relative truth. Finally, this essay will evaluate the entertainment factor of torture as wrong, based on the argument that a transcultural moral standard of what is right and wrong does indeed exist and how and why this argument is a convincing one indeed. Moral relativism is the theory that what is considered virtuous conduct and right and wrong varies between different cultural contexts and societal situations and is nonexistent in the general abstract. The disagreement argument accounts for the seemingly obvious fact that different cultures have different moral beliefs leading to moral disagreements demonstrating that morality is merely a product of personal or cultural opinion. However, while moral agreements may never be reached fully and are difficult to establish, mere disagreement does not mean there is no absolute truth to pursue.
As mentioned by Tim LaHaye, “secular humanism is a dangerous worldview that exalts man’s knowledge rather than God’s wisdom” (1). On the other hand, Robert F. Morse described “the guiding principles of humanism are rooted in intellect, science, critical thinking and experience rather than belief in divine authority” (1). As a religious person myself when I read the article by Tim LaHaye, I felt secular humanism is bad indeed. We shouldn’t be detached from religion because before everything else, religion helped us understand good and bad paths of life. I would like to believe we are the followers of the God’s path.
A follower of natural law would say that the statement is flawed, and that the theory can be extremely useful when dealing with issues concerning the environment. However, there are those who would believe otherwise, and suggest an alternative ethical approach to be more appropriate. One way in which natural law is of no use when dealing with issues concerning the environment is that some rules formulated by the theory do not work when applied. For example, Aquinas’ synderesis rule of ‘do good, avoid evil’ is the foundation of his ethical theory, this principle implying that the exploitation and abuse of the environment would be wrong as it is regarded as evil. Despite this, his synderesis rule consequently cannot be applied to all situations when dealing with issues concerning the environment as it is impossible to ‘avoid evil’ completely.
a) Explain the concept of relativist ethics. (25 marks) b) ‘Relativist Ethics are unfair’ Discuss. (10 marks) a) Relativist ethics can be described as the belief that nothing is objectively right or wrong and that the definitions of right or wrong depend upon the prevailing view of a particular individual, culture, or even the politics of the area. People do not always agree on what ‘s right and what’s wrong. For example, in some cultures it may be acceptable for a man to have more than one wife, while in other cultures this would be seen to be immoral, and even a crime.
Cultural relativism is the code of regarding the practices, beliefs and values of a culture from the perspective of the culture in question. However different cultures have different moral codes, which is the key to accepting the idea of morality. James Rachels states a few arguments defending cultural relativism. However, I disagree with his arguments because cultural relativism does not always excuse what one culture believes is morally wrong while the other culture believes it is morally right, therefore there is no objective truth. For example, the Greeks believed it was wrong to eat the dead, whereas the Callatians believed it was right.
We are behaving morally, on the other hand, if we resist because we believe it is wrong to steal and that by stealing we would be treating someone else as a means to an end (e.g. for our own enrichment) which would be wrong in itself. Kant then goes on to argue that in an ideal world (one in which good was always rewarded and evil punished) moral behaviour (which would be in accordance with the categorical imperative) would always lead to happiness. In the real world, however, this does not necessarily happen. Therefore there must be