Arguments Behind Ethical Relativism

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Updated: Mar 28, 2023
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Category: Epistemology
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The discussions presented by James Rachel on the issue of cultural relativity and the ethical relativity is the premise that different cultures have different moral codes that guide given actions of individuals. In that sense, variations in the morality from one culture to another provides space to assert that right or wrong is a matter of the personal opinions which is then a subjective issue on different cultures.

An illustrative example given by Rachel is a case of one culture viewing cannibalism as a standard dynamic in the society while the next culture frowns upon acts of cannibalism and therefore making right or wrong a varying opinion from cultures to cultures.

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In trying to understand the different moral epistemology theory mentioned and the ontological summarization in the discussions by Rachel, results in an argument about cultural or ethical relativism is that full of fallacy. Another illustration on the premise that different cultures have to defer moral codes is the general assumption by many that the earth is flat yet in actual proven scientific senses it is spherical.

The divergent opinions on the actual shape of the earth and belief in either of the arguments do not disqualify the other argument only because one does not agree with the perceptions of the other. Given the stated positions of different moral views about certain circumstances in the society regarding morals, we, therefore, lack stable and contingent reasons to believe that ethical relativism is a real school of thought. On the contrary, to above analogies by Rachel, there are certain grounds to argue that theory of ethical relativism is wrong.

The first reasoning behind Rachels arguments against the theory of ethical relativism is the fact that we cannot stand up and claim that our cultures and perceptions are morally upright and superior to those of others who dont share the same ideologies with us. The historical acts committed by other communities like the German Nazi, however, stand to be criticized whichever logic they used to orchestrate such injustices, and hence it becomes morally plausible to say that ethical relativism is a false concept.

Another argument against cultural relativism is that to hold the theory it then casts a shadow of the doubt to the ideals of moral progress through cultural transitions by integrating other cultures and adapting them as part of the moral grounds on which peoples actions can be held to merit.

The strength of the arguments on different morals of various cultures and it is a matter of personal opinions is the appeal to have tolerance to individual morals held by some cultures. An important argument in that regard of tolerance is the ability to speak the truth against opposite injustices like was done against Nazi Germany. As it is put by some saint in all non-essential things, respect for diversity.

In essential things, unity. In all things love. In the same vein, the non-consensual bride kidnapping as common in some cultures requires unity against because that is morally implausible. Ethical responsibility is the function of knowledge and enlightenment and hence those trapped in ignorance of harmful cultures and morals approved by people of their ilk but frowned upon by others like the non-consensual bridal kidnapping. Lack of blame among those who approve such acts still warrants condemnation from those that morally feel that such actions are wrong.

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Arguments behind ethical relativism. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from