Exploring the various pitfalls of relativism
He argues for ethical relativism by claiming there is no empirical basis for objective standards in ethics. This statement sparked debate among philosophers and anthropologists in the universalism-relativism debate.
Types of relativism
Our individual ethical behavior is shaped by our enculturative experience, by the manner in which we have been socialized to behave in a given social context. But without absolute morality, there is nothing of which to be tolerant. Hence we have the Law of the Instrument-the instrument determines the problem as well as the solution. It's all relative anyway. Hammer them! It is the idea that each culture or ethnic group is to be evaluated on the basis of its own values and norms of behavior and not on the basis of those of another culture or ethnic group. If we simply wanted to experience justice, and morality could truly belong to time, then we could adjust our concepts and ideas of justice to something far more attainable, but we do not. Because of this ethicists believe that the concept of cultural relativism threatens the discipline of ethics since, if values are relative to a given culture than this must mean that there are no universal moral absolutes by which the behavior of people can be judged. The basic premise of anthropology and sociology is that "all experience is culturally mediated. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. But this is within a society. Immigration — Moral Relativism as a Critique of Assimilation How should societies with large immigrant populations deal with the problem of multiculturalism and relativism? At the same time, a form of tolerance is still very relevant and necessary in our interactions within the global community.
In other words, "each culture must be examined in terms of its own structure and values, instead of being rated by the standards of some other civilization exalted as absolute-which in practice of course is always our own civilization" Kroebercited by Herskovits, p.
Thus, "every society. Moral relativism is a way of thinking that has become increasingly popular.
While it may be nearly impossible to compare all cultures, both relativists and absolutists agree that certain values are cross-cultural, such as an abhorrence of murder and stealing, and valuing justice and respect. Renteln maintains that the basis for justice would come from the morality of a culture or society, an international body, or member or group from another culture or society. Absolutes, on the other hand, cannot accommodate newly emergent societal needs. Apartheid, the holocaust, and the genocide of the American Indian are all examples of the third level of ethnocentrism. There is a lack of recognition of ethics in finance, which reflects not only the perception of many people in and out of the business world, but also the way many would like to continue to perceive business and finance. Thus, where you stand determines what you see! And that seems to me to be the opposite of what relativism is. Universality refers to principles across cultures that are the same or similar. III — Philosophical Argument Against Moral Relativism The argument from cultural diversity, suggesting what is morally right and wrong is relative to culture, looks like this: Different cultures hold different sets of moral values and no moral values are the same throughout all cultures If different cultures hold different sets of moral values and no moral values are the same throughout all cultures, then moral rightness or wrongness is relative to culture Hence, moral rightness or wrongness is relative to culture . However, the point of this topological discussion is to suggest that our knowledge of the world come to us from different sources, science being only one of them. With the European Renaissance period began a surge of human interconnectivity, moving from improvements in marine technology to machines that can now traverse the globe in less than three days. This does not mean, however, that all cultural practices are equally valid.
In a world where no moral court of appeals exists, might makes right. Hence we have the Law of the Instrument-the instrument determines the problem as well as the solution.
While modern moral relativism is due largely to ideologies arising in the 20thcentury, relativism goes back to ancient Greek thought.
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