Ethical Relativism and Cannibalism

Topics: Moral relativism, Relativism, Morality Pages: 3 (1085 words) Published: December 9, 2006
Ethical Relativism
Cannibalism, what do you think of it? Is it morally correct? Does the theory of ethical relativism support it or does it knock it down? Throughout this paper I am going to evaluate the pros and cons of ethical relativism for a case concerning cannibalism. An American man by the name of Daniel went to South America, for the reasons of writing a book on it and publishing it in the United States, to study a native tribe and to try to become part of it. While Daniel was studying this tribe they accepted him, and eventually made him part of their tribe. To be initiated into the tribe they had to raid a neighboring village and kill some of their neighboring tribesmen and bring them back and cook and eat their bodies, which Daniel took part. Is it morally acceptable for Daniel to engage in this ritual, and is it morally correct for Daniel to come back to the United States and practice this new culture, which includes cannibalism?

Ethical Relativism is philosophically defined as the view that whatever is morally correct is determined by the morality and behavior that a culture generally accepts as morally permissible. In short, the moral truth varies from culture to culture. There are four main parts to ethical relativism that make it easier to understand. First, there is a need for tolerance and understanding of other cultures. Second, there is moral diversity everywhere and it needs to be tolerated. Next, we should not pass judgment on practices in other cultures, which we do not understand. Finally, sometimes reasonable people may differ on what is morally acceptable, so why is their position to judge others morals. Take for example our dilemma with Daniel and his new culture. The straight ethical relativist would say that whatever culture Daniel wants to practice is his business and no one should do anything to stop him from practicing what he believes as morally correct. Even if Daniel wanted to practice this new culture in the...
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