Chapter 2


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Chapter 2

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