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Chapter Two: Ethical Relativism - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Chapter Two: Ethical Relativism. Ethical Relativism holds that there are no objective moral principles, but that such principles are human inventions. Ethnocentrism. The prejudicial view that interprets all of reality through the eyes of one's own cultural beliefs and values. Moral Objectivism.

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Chapter Two: Ethical Relativism


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    1. Chapter Two:Ethical Relativism Ethical Relativism holds that there are no objective moral principles, but that such principles are human inventions.

    2. Ethnocentrism • The prejudicial view that interprets all of reality through the eyes of one's own cultural beliefs and values

    3. Moral Objectivism • The view that there are universal and objective moral principles valid for all people and social environments.

    4. Ethical Nihilism • The doctrine that holds that there are no valid moral principles that exist. • Morality is a complete fiction.

    5. Two Main Forms of Ethical Relativism • Subjective ethical relativism (Subjectivism): • All moral principles are justified by virtue of their acceptance by an individual agent him- or herself • Conventional ethical relativism (Conventionalism): • All moral principles are justified by virtue of their cultural acceptance

    6. Subjective Ethical Relativism • Morality depends not on society, but rather on the individual. • Morality is like taste or aesthetic judgment. • Morality is in the eye of the beholder. • Does not help the minimal moral aim of preventing a Hobbesian state of nature • Implicitly assumes moral solipsism, a view that isolated individuals make up separate universes

    7. The Diversity Thesis • What is considered morally right and wrong varies from society to society, so there are no universal moral standards held by all societies • An Anthropological theory that acknowledges that moral rules differ from society to society • Sometimes referred to as cultural relativism

    8. Dependency Thesis • All moral principles derive their validity from cultural acceptance • Asserts individual acts are right or wrong depending on the nature of the society in which the occur • Morality must be seen in a context that depends on the goals, wants, beliefs, history, and environment of the society in question

    9. Conventional Ethical Relativism • This view states that there are no objective moral principles, but that all valid moral principles are justified by virtue of their cultural acceptance. • This view recognizes the social nature of morality. • Treats the principle of tolerance as an absolute moral principle

    10. Criticisms of Conventional Ethical Relativism • Undermines important values • Leads to subjectivism • Moral diversity is exaggerated • Weak dependency does not imply relativism

    11. The Indeterminacy of Language • The indeterminacy of translation argument • Holds that languages are often so fundamentally different from each other that we cannot accurately translate concepts from one to another • Holds that language is the essence of a culture and fundamentally shapes its reality • Seems to imply that each society's moral principles depend on its unique linguistically grounded culture

    12. Conclusion • Subjective ethical relativism seems to boil down to anarchistic individualism • Conventional ethical relativism fails to deal adequately with the problem of the reformer, the question of defining a culture, and the whole enterprise of moral criticism • Unless moral objectivism can make a positive case, relativism may survive criticisms