Supporting Moral Relativism

Topics: Morality, Culture, Cultural relativism Pages: 5 (1874 words) Published: April 20, 2011
In Support of Moral Relativism:
My topic is on moral relativism, and I am trying to argue that moral relativism is applicable and is required to explain the current phenomenon. First I would try to show how culture affects moral decisions, and that such shows the need for a relativistic explanation. I would propose a few arguments and analogies for the need of relativism, such as that in different situations the same moral rule may not apply. I would then try to see if there are any moral standards or rights that are deemed to be universal, and try to see if they can be relativistic. I would like to investigate on how we define the groups that the moral principles are relative to, and would like to show that relativism exists as a phenomenon no matter which group we define. Then, I would like to show that the moral standard of a group can be set by the consensus of the majority, who have large contributions to their cultural environment. [3] I would try to look at what would happen if relativism is taken to the extreme by defining individuals as those the moral principles are relative to, and from that, what degree of depth should we look at when we consider moral relativism, and if so whether morality beyond that certain depth is absolute and universal. For the first example, in Muslim countries, all female wear face veils as a cultural tradition. To the Muslims, this is totally acceptable within their own culture, but for us we would believe that it is an infringement of human right. In this case we have the tendency to impose our own cultural norms on the Muslims to refute such acts. But to the Muslim world the idea of not wearing face veils has never crossed their mind, and within their culture it is even wrong to uncover the face veils. It can easily be observed that there requires a justification of acts within a culture itself in different places and situations, rather than across different cultures. [4] Similarly for morality, “killing and eating human beings” may be morally wrong for us, but to the cannibal tribes it is totally natural due to their exposure to their own culture. For us to impose our own moral considerations onto the cannibals is unfair to them, just as unfair as for them to impose their moral considerations on us. [1] Thus, while we would resist being eaten by cannibals, we should not condemn their act of eating human beings as immoral merely on the ground that such act is immoral in our own culture. However one difficulty faced by moral relativism is how we could define the valid morality of a certain society or culture. In fact there are quite a number of disagreements within a culture on how the moral standard should be set. I believe that such disagreement is not an exclusive problem for moral relativism, but instead a problem for most ethical theories. The resolution I propose is to realize that the moral norms are in fact largely influenced by the cultural environment. Thus, it is appropriate to define the valid moral standard of a society based on the moral beliefs of the members of the society who had contributed collectively to their cultural environment. In other terms, how people should behave in a certain culture should be defined collectively by those people who sculpted the culture itself. For example, Sub-Saharan Africans have collectively defined their own unique culture in their own region, and generations of Sub-Saharan Africans are mutually under such cultural influence. What the Sub-Saharan Africans believe that the culture’s moral standard is for them would be the moral norm for them to follow. Following the above argument, in Sub-Saharan Africa where some people sacrifice children for worshipping their gods their acts are totally morally justified within their own culture, so it would be wrong for us to judge them according to our own moral standards which are brewed in our own, separate culture. However this does not imply that we do not have the right to feel revulsion...
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