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Chapter 2 Chapter 2 Presentation Transcript

  • Chapter Two: Ethical Relativism Ethical Relativism holds that there are no objective moral principles, but that such principles are human inventions.
  • Ethnocentrism
    • The prejudicial view that interprets all of reality through the eyes of one's own cultural beliefs and values
  • Moral Objectivism
    • The view that there are universal and objective moral principles valid for all people and social environments.
  • Ethical Nihilism
    • The doctrine that holds that there are no valid moral principles that exist.
    • Morality is a complete fiction.
  • Two Main Forms of Ethical Relativism
    • Subjective ethical relativism (Subjectivism):
      • All moral principles are justified by virtue of their acceptance by an individual agent him- or herself
    • Conventional ethical relativism (Conventionalism):
      • All moral principles are justified by virtue of their cultural acceptance
  • Subjective Ethical Relativism
    • Morality depends not on society, but rather on the individual.
    • Morality is like taste or aesthetic judgment.
    • Morality is in the eye of the beholder.
    • Does not help the minimal moral aim of preventing a Hobbesian state of nature
    • Implicitly assumes moral solipsism , a view that isolated individuals make up separate universes
  • The 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
    • An Anthropological theory that acknowledges that moral rules differ from society to society
    • Sometimes referred to as cultural relativism
  • Dependency Thesis
    • All moral principles derive their validity from cultural acceptance
    • Asserts individual acts are right or wrong depending on the nature of the society in which the occur
    • Morality must be seen in a context that depends on the goals, wants, beliefs, history, and environment of the society in question
  • Conventional Ethical Relativism
    • This view states that there are no objective moral principles, but that all valid moral principles are justified by virtue of their cultural acceptance.
    • This view recognizes the social nature of morality.
    • Treats the principle of tolerance as an absolute moral principle
  • Criticisms of Conventional Ethical Relativism
    • Undermines important values
    • Leads to subjectivism
    • Moral diversity is exaggerated
    • Weak dependency does not imply relativism
  • The Indeterminacy of Language
    • The indeterminacy of translation argument
    • Holds that languages are often so fundamentally different from each other that we cannot accurately translate concepts from one to another
    • Holds that language is the essence of a culture and fundamentally shapes its reality
    • Seems to imply that each society's moral principles depend on its unique linguistically grounded culture
  • Conclusion
    • Subjective ethical relativism seems to boil down to anarchistic individualism
    • Conventional ethical relativism fails to deal adequately with the problem of the reformer, the question of defining a culture, and the whole enterprise of moral criticism
    • Unless moral objectivism can make a positive case, relativism may survive criticisms