Philosophy 302: Ethics Ethical Relativism
Abstract: The objections to ethical relativism are outlined. Ethical absolutism, ethical nihilism, and ethical skepticism are defined.
(sociological relativism): the descriptive view that different groups of people have different moral standards for evaluating acts as right or wrong.A. Hence, it is not an ethical doctrine--it's a sociological or observational conclusion--evenso; the view is somewhat ambiguous.B. For example, different groups might have the same basic moral principle, but apply the principle in radically different situations. (If we take the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number as an instance, then this utilitarian principle could be instantiated bothin the present day U.S.'s custom to care for the aged and infirm
the historical Inuitcustom for the elderly and infirm go off to die rather than endanger the tribe as it moves towinter quarters. The same principle here has two significantly different applications.)1. A second sense of cultural relativism is less obvious.
., that different culturesdiffer on basic moral principles.2. A possible reason for the observation of cultural relativism is shown by the exampleof basic moral principles which could be said to support different moral rulesaccording to the interpretations of different cultures. In the following diagrams, thereare two vastly different interpretations listed for each moral principle.Play Fair
"An eye for an eye." "Love your neighbor."Leisure activity is part of the good life
"Physical exercise isgood for you.""Develop your mind.(You are not ananimal.)"