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Week 3 - Chapter 2

by: Nicole Dante

Week 3 - Chapter 2 PHIL 1103

Nicole Dante
GPA 3.115

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About this Document

Ethical Relativism, Moral Objectivism and how they compete
Dr. Louis DeBello
Class Notes
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Nicole Dante on Thursday September 15, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 1103 at Fairleigh Dickinson University taught by Dr. Louis DeBello in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see Ethics in PHILOSOPHY AND HUMANITIES at Fairleigh Dickinson University.


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Date Created: 09/15/16
th September 12 , 2016 Chapter 2 - Ethical Relativism Textbook: Ethical relativism: the doctrine that the moral rightness and wrongness of actions vary from society to society and that there are no absolute universal moral standards binding on all men at all times. Moral objectivism: the view that there are universal and objective moral principles valid for all people and social environments. • Contrasting doctrines o Incompatible, can’t both be true Ethnocentrism: evaluating other people/cultures through your own culture’s lens • Ex: Eskimos allow elderly to die by starvation (pg. 15) • Ex: one child law in China (infanticide) • Ex: polygamy – one culture may consider moral/acceptable, another may not • “Custom is the king of all” – custom sets a cultures morals Ted Bundy (Pg. 17) • Thought he was above the law • Questioned why his victims deserved to live/not be raped more than he deserved to feel pleasure • Mentally unstable Moral solipsism: isolated individuals make up separate universes • Ex: Hitler • Morality exists because of responsibilities within interpersonal relationships o If no one else is there, there is no need for morality Romans “De qustibus, non es dusputandum” In matters of taste, there is no dispute • Subjective issues, personal preference • Mackey – moral issues don’t exist Cultural standards/Conventional standards • Morals and ethics are based on these standards • Different based on time/location • Ex: British drive on the opposite side of the road form Americans Textbook (Pg. 19): Diversity Thesis: What is considered morally right and wrong varies from society to society, so there are no universal moral standards held by all societies. Dependency Thesis: All moral principles derive their validity from cultural acceptance. • Every culture has a certain amount of relativity o Is it enough to claim there are no universal morals? th September 15 , 2016 All that matters is what a specific society believes and deems morally right • Ex: honors killings can be seen as morally justifiable Moral Objectivism (competes with ethical relativism) 1. Diversity thesis 2. Dependency thesis Have to be able to argue to parts 1 and 2 • Ex: 1) Eskimos allow elderly to die of starvation. 2) Tradition came out of living in harsh climate with limited resources. Morals learned from parents, and they learned from their parents and so on • Culturally ingrained • Ex: people with different professions look at empty plot of land differently, see different potential (pg. 20) o Why act relative to someone else’s goals or objectives? Ethical Relativism & Tolerance • Ex: female circumcision o Condemning means you’re looking through and ethnocentric lens o No rules says we can criticize this practice Textbook: Melville Herskovits – intercultural tolerance (pg. 21) 1. If morality is relative to its culture, then there is not other culture but one’s own 2. If there is no independent way of criticizing any other culture, then we ought to be tolerant of the moralities of other cultures 3. Morality is relative to its culture 4. Therefore, we ought to be tolerant of the moralities of other cultures Deductive Logic: conclusion logically follows one of the premises • Ex: All men are mortal Michael is a man Michael is mortal IF all men are mortal AND Michael is a man THEN Michael is mortal Arguments can be valid but not sound • Ex: IF all men are immortal AND Michael is a man THEN Michael is immortal Can also deduce true conclusion from false premises 1. All fishes are mammals 2. All whales are fish All whales are mammals = VALID / not sound Moral objectivism & Melville Herskovits Rules 1. Agree 2. Agree 3. Disagree 4. Disagree Criticisms of Ethical Relativism • There are no universal standards? o The idea that every moral and ethical idea must be tolerated is a universal standard • Undermines important values o Can’t criticize outside own culture § Hitler could have been equated to Mother Teresa if not for outside intervention o Predominant view held by a culture Textbook info from Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong , Seventh Edition, Pojman & Fieser


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