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Ethical Relativism

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Alternatives to Relativism Moral Objectivism- there are some (at least one) universalizable moral principles. Moral Absolutism - there are some ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Ethical Relativism


1
Ethical Relativism
2
Relevant Terms
  • Subjective Relativism (Subjectivism) The view
    that right actions are those sanctioned by a
    person
  • Cultural Relativism (Conventionalism) The view
    that right actions are those sanctioned by ones
    culture
  • Moral Objectivism The view that there are moral
    norms or principles that are valid or true for
    everyone

3
The argument for Relativism
  • P1. Beliefs about what is right and wrong differ
    across cultures (the Diversity thesis).
  • P2. What is right and wrong is dependent upon, or
    relative to, culture (the Dependency thesis).
  • ---
  • C. Thus, there is no objective right and wrong.

4
  • The argument appears valid, and thus to defeat
    the conclusion Pojman will need to defeat at
    least one of the premises.
  • P1 is simply a statement of fact, and thus hard
    to overcome. Thus the weaker premise is P2.
  • The strength of P2 resides in the nature of the
    dependency implied by the premise, i.e. what
    degree of dependency does the relativist require
    to uphold the conclusion, and can sufficient
    fault be found to undermine the argument?

5
Strong vs. Weak Dependency
  • Weak Dependency - expressions of a moral belief X
    can differ across culture
  • Strong Dependency - the moral belief X itself can
    differ across culture
  • To make the argument stick, the relativist is
    going to have to claim strong dependence.

6
The attack on P2
  • If relativism is correct, it leads to two
    possible interpretations
  • Subjectivism morality is dependent on
    individuals, not culture
  • Conventionalism morality is dependent on culture

7
  • For Pojmans attack to be successful, he will
    have to show that both subjectivism and
    conventionalism are false.
  • Subjectivism leads to absurd conclusions -
  • 'morality' has no meaning
  • no interpersonal criticism is possible
  • Conventionalism collapses into Subjectivism -
  • How do we determine what a society is?
  • How is reform possible within a conventionalist
    system?
  • No intercultural moral critique is possible.
  • In addition, relativism (in both forms) entails
    tolerance. If so, then relativism entails at
    least one objective moral value (tolerance). If
    so, then relativism is not true for all moral
    values.

8
Alternatives to Relativism
  • Moral Objectivism- there are some (at least one)
    universalizable moral principles.
  • Moral Absolutism - there are some (at least one)
    universalizable moral principles which are
    inviolable.

9
The nature of universalizable principles
  • Alleviation of suffering
  • Avoid/resolve social conflicts
  • Promote human flourishing/survival

10
Pojmans argument for Objectivism
  • P1. Objective moral principles are those
    adherence to which meet the needs and promote the
    most significant needs of persons.
  • P2. Some principles are such that adherence to
    them meets and promotes the significant needs of
    persons.
  • ---
  • C1. Thus, there are some objective moral rules.
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