Moral Beliefs: Relatief Or Practice Is Right Or Wrong?

Improved Essays
It is a known fact that no matter what, people will disagree on moral matters. A matter that may be “wrong” according to one group can be “right” to another. When those with differing opinions meet, disagreement will happen. Philosophers have long theorized on how to reconcile between the different sides of a conflict on what is “right” or “wrong”. The question is, who is correct on the matter of whether a belief or practice is right or wrong then? In a broader sense, how do we determine if something is right or wrong? Some theorists, like James Rachels, subscribe to the belief that what is right or wrong is purely relative to each culture and there is no universal rightness or wrongness. Others, like J.L. Mackie, argue on a more level that …show more content…
He contests relativism by stating that such a view is ridiculous primarily because of the wide range of immoral acts “X” could possibly be. He gives the practice of human sacrifice as an example and calls into question the dubiousness of moral relativity in such a situation. According to moral relativity even if “we” were to disagree on such a practice, if that society practices the act (Bernard citing the Ashanti tribe) approves of it, then we have no place in interfering with the tribe. Williams also points out that any society must have a sort of universal moral standard for it to even exist. He notes how any society will have certain standards ingrained within its members and that these ingrained morals cannot simply just be forced aside when confronted with a separate society with differing morals.(Williams, 21) Rachels’ relativism argument and Williams’ counter argument are examples of philosophies without a universal moral truth and an argument that debases it. The case of Rachels’ relativism is a little strange in that, while the theory claims to be spreading tolerance of other cultures, the lack of a universal standard to base the moral judgements upon brings up the question of how one would judge their own moral standards. This is especially potent in cases where a culture permits acts such as conquest and genocide-acts that obviously will bring harm to others. The Nazi regime is a prime example of this. Relativism’s lack of a universal moral standard becomes very contradictory in this sense. No matter which view is taken, whether or not one believes in the existence of a universal moral truth is essential to furthering an understanding of morality. The existence of one provides a standard for others to be judged against but the belief that there isn’t one could also be a better proponent of tolerance between cultures. The existence of a universal moral truth is essential in

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    It brings a large variety of moral codes/customs into question. The relativist concludes that because there is such a large variety, that there cannot be any universal morality. An absolutist would argue that it is the ignorance of what the absolute moral standard is. Because both these ideas are equally plausible, the the argument is a very weak one. The second argument is the one of command.…

    • 788 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In William Shaw’s essay about Relativism in Ethics he analyzes the matter of what is ethically wrong and right and how relative it is to an individual or to one’s own culture. He defends to argue that ethical relativism of either side is unjustified. Shaw examines that some relativist may think that morality is relative to only the individual and not one’s own culture. This theory considers that what is right and what is wrong is determined by what an individual may think is right or wrong. However, if any individual was to decide what is right and what is wrong how would one know what really is right and wrong.…

    • 589 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    I believe that it is common sense to disagree with moral relativism solely on the fact that it accepts racism, genocide of groups, even murder, as justifiable as long as that is what the group values to be right or acceptable. Having the beliefs of a moral relativist, you could go so far as to say that a group or culture could decide that starting a nuclear war was morally just, and that we as people outside of that group could not criticize those people for their actions. If ethical relativism is to be completely true, there can be no common ground for resolving moral disputes or for reaching an agreement on moral matters between members of different cultures. When it comes to justifying moral relativism, there is no decision procedure that can demonstrate the objective truth or falsity of moral judgments. On the contrary, moral objectivism, also known as moral absolutism, encompasses ethical theories that support the objectivity of moral values and norms.…

    • 1471 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Slavery And Morality

    • 1064 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Can a murderer’s philosophy be moral? Some of life 's hardest problems require one to take a moral stance on an issue. The difficult part is not the action of taking the stance, but figuring out if that stance would be seen as moral. The morality of such stances cause debates all over the world, as the morality of the stance can differ from person to person. As Benedict states, “A normal action is one which falls well within the limits of expected behavior for a particular society,” and the expected behavior for such society can be seen as a list of criteria that is always changing because of culture (137).…

    • 1064 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    1a. Cultural relativism is the view that no culture is superior to any other culture when comparing systems of morality, law, politics, etc. (AllAboutPhilosophy.org, n.d.) It does not offer a universal right and wrong, but rather offers the notion of morals based on the cultural environment. This diverges from the traditional ethical theories of doing what is right and adopts the ethical theories that are the “lay of the land” as they relate to the local culture in which the dilemma takes place.…

    • 963 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    While acknowledging Cultural relativism which is the theory of a non existing moral truthness, he states that it is inherently false. His article states that there is a moral standard and it is necessary for self improvement. When looked at, Rachel's article exercises almost the same beliefs and should be considered when…

    • 719 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Relativism And Culture

    • 544 Words
    • 3 Pages

    “Different cultures have different moral codes”, James Rachels discusses in his article Why Morality Is Not Relative? (160). Moral codes differ from culture to culture and each culture tends to have their own individual standards. Cultural relativism is said to be “moral rules differ from society to society” (18). Cultural relativism can be looked at as a theory based on nature of morality. Each culture has their own moral codes, typically created by their ancestors.…

    • 544 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The second consequence is the loss of accountability for the actions within a society itself. The morality of an action would be solely based on the standards of the society, not based on human rights or a universal social contract. The issue therein is that there is also nothing to keep the society morally sound. If murdering a blonde abides by the moral code within the society, then the act of murder itself in that society is not morally wrong. Rachels posits the argument that if Cultural Relativism restricts one from the criticizing the actions of/in other countries, then it can also forbid one from criticizing one’s own.…

    • 201 Words
    • 1 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    PHI2600 Ethics Research Project Paper Abbie Guile Moral Relativism, Emrys Westacott Morals have many components that play into what is considered right or wrong, and this is where moral relativism comes in. Moral relativism is the standpoint of where the morals are coming from. This gives us more of an explanation to where individual’s morals originate from and help us understand them. An example of this could be someone’s culture, because his or her standpoint is different from someone that was raised with a different culture. What person A may think is morally correct may be morally incorrect for person B, who is from a different culture, because what person A thinks is relative to them and their culture, not relative to person B. Person…

    • 1442 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Cultural relativism may be defined as a theory that advocates the idea of subjective morality. To extrapolate, this theory entails that “different cultures have differing moral codes” and these variances are merely arbitrary. Although this is a seemingly sufficient theory, there are key issues with this school of thought. James Rachels suggests several issues with accepting cultural relativism. He criticizes cultural relativism by stating that the theory is absurd as it entails severe consequences if practiced.…

    • 841 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Euthanasia and Abortion are two widely spoken and discussed about themes that also recur frequently in political debates. Like for any topic in the world, everyone has their own opinion on these themes; but on this particular subject, people’s opinions tend to fall into two categories: those who are in favour because they believe it is right, and the others who are firmly against it due to the fact that they are convinced it is a wrong doing. The question is who are we to decide what can be classified as “wrong” or “right”? Because if we all strongly believe in what we preach, but everyone’s ideas clash, how are we meant to decide what is truly good and bad?…

    • 1104 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In Folkways, William Graham Sumner claimed that morality is actually just a reflection of the mores. He further argued that since morality came from the typical culture groups, it should be only bounded within the group but not universally. The thesis Sumner raised in his argument, aka, ethical relativism, had been challenged by many objections. In this essay, I will provide one objection of ethical relativism and argue that even Sumner attempted to address the objection; his thesis is still fallacious due to begging the question. One critical objection to ethical relativism is the absurd objection.…

    • 834 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    How should we think about ethics? In order to answer this ultimate question, we must first understand the crucial concepts of ethics, but before we look into the concepts, it is essential to state the basic definition of ethic because the word “ethics” is the basis of the question. In our society, ethics is commonly defined as the study of morals, which are the standards of right and wrong that show humans what to do. Knowing this, we can continue with the concepts of ethics. First of all, we have to understand how knowledge about ethics is gained.…

    • 1990 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    “Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it,” (William Penn). William Penn is right, right is right and wrong is wrong no matter what anybody says. However, the real problem is what is right and what is wrong? And how do people know?…

    • 395 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    Moral relativists such as David Wong and Gilbert Harman have provided a more sophisticated version of moral relativism which mitigated some flaws of the inaugural and naïve form which Rachel argued against. Cultural relativism is also a relevant theory to explain the extreme cases of disagreements in our world. However, there is still invalidity and shortcomings of the cultural relativism argument that hinders moral progress, or deteriorate the view about morality into nihilistic grounds. Hence it is still essential to maintain some moral truths as objective instead of accepting the theory in…

    • 1886 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Great Essays