Ethical Relativism

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Empire State College

Ethical Relativism

Beau Fletcher
An Introduction to Philosophy
Professor Nicholas Hardaker

The world is an immensely diverse and unique place with societies that are radically different from one another. Relativists argue that there is no universal ethical standard to identify what is right or wrong; instead, it is up to each society to develop a moral standard that is most compatible with their distinctive culture. Ethical Relativism argues that people should act within the moral standards set forth by their specific culture. It is also important to note that a society can evolve (as well as regress) over time, making way for a revised set of moral standards that are more compatible with sociological views at that time. I found it hard to identify many of my peers as having either a relativist, or absolutist position within the discussions. Many seem to have a conglomerate of the ‘best’ ideals from both sides of the spectrum. There are however, some great examples of both absolutist and relativist minds in the class discussions, being able to look at exactly how they both apply their reasoning to arrive at radically different stances on some fundamental questions about ethics and moral standards. Before I get into defining some examples of both relativist and absolutist ideologies, I want to start with a post from week two that is an excellent example of relativism in action and that shows how radically two different society’s moral standards can differ. In the post, “WHAT DOES ‘GOOD’ MEAN,” Daniel Brundage shared an interesting story regarding his cousin’s experience with an aboriginal African tribe, and more specifically, the tribe’s conception of what was correct morality in their society. His post directly relates to the idea of ethical relativism as he states, “The language barrier caused some problems and she was unable to…...

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