Michael Daniel Unit B Oct 20, 2006 In Begres’s lecture she discussed descriptive ethical relativism and normative ethical

relativism. Descriptive ethical relativism states that, “What is right at one place or time may be wrong at another place or time.” Descriptive ethical relativism is true. Normative ethical relativism states that, “What is in fact right or wrong is dependant upon or relative to the society of the agent.” Normative relativism rests its claim on three propositions: (1) Some things are acceptable in one culture but are not acceptable in others (cultural variability). (2) Ethical beliefs come from childhood influences which come from society (facts of origin of beliefs). (3) The culture of the agent is superior to all other cultures (ethnocentrism). Normative ethical relativism (NER) is wrong for the following reasons: Cultural variability has nothing to do with it’s conclusion. The theory of the origin of beliefs does not prove truth and ethnocentrism is false. Also, is NER is true then the minority is not subject to the morals created by the majority in a culture. Act Utilitarianism is another theory of morality. This theory says that to decide whether an action is moral you need to think about if there are other options to choose from. If there are no other options then it is not an ethical question. You need to think about the people who will be effected by the action and if it will be beneficial to them or not. You should do the thing that creates the most happiness in the world. Kant says that it is always wrong to use another person as a mere means to an end and we should treat others with respect. It is ok to use somebody so long as they get something in return or they know that they are being used and are ok with it. Kant has a universalizability test: Think about the maxim an action would be acting on. Imagine a world where everybody

did that. Does this action create a world of contradictions or irrationalities. If yes, then the action is wrong. If no then the action is correct. The evidence used in this lecture was sometimes questionable. At one point she asked for examples of universal morals. The examples given included rape. While I believe that rape is wrong there are cultures, especially in pre-renaissance Europe where rape was codified into law. In Europe the king or duke, had the right to sleep with any bride before the groom did on the wedding night. There is historical evidence of women who resisted this and were raped anyway. The incident that comes to mind immediately involves a burgundian duke, but European mythology is full of these stories. In Islamist states public gang rapes are sometimes used as a punishment. Sometimes it isn’t even for anything that the woman did. For example, if a man were found guilty of theft, an appropriate punishment in that culture might be to publicly gang rape his sister (common occurrence in pre-occupation Afghanistan) I do not believe in universal mores. There is an exception for everything that I can think of. I personally believe that it is a moral imperative that you should do anything that you have to do in order to save your own life. When we consider fight-orflight mechanisms, this idea is built into how we function as human beings, so you would think that it is universal. It is not. There are cultures where there are things that can not be done even upon pain of death. On many occasions early Christians were martyred because they refused to verbally renounce Christ. Military heroes give up their life for what they believe in. Hunger strikes that can lead to death are a form of protest for many people. If cultural indoctrination can override our own biological responses in this way then there is nothing in our characters that can’t be overridden by cultural indoctrination.