E THICAL R ELATIVISM “It’s all relative.” What’s right for you may not be right for me. Any moral opinion is as good as the next.
E THICAL R ELATIVISM Holds three different views: 1) Different groups of people ought to have different ethical standards for evaluating acts as right or wrong Consider the issue of the Vatican covering up the instances of child abuse from Catholic Priests.
E THICAL R ELATIVISM V IEWS C ONT. 2) Different beliefs are true in their respective societies Consider the national drinking age of America versus the drinking age in France.
E THICAL R ELATIVISM V IEWS C ONT. 3)Different beliefs are not instances of a basic moral principal Consider slavery.
E THICAL R ELATIVISM Ethical relativism prescribes the way people ought to behave, not the way they actually behave.
O BJECTIONS The Differing Ideals Objection Also known as the linguistic objection It is inconsistent to say that the same practice is considered right in one society and considered wrong in another
D IFFERING I DEALS O BJECTION The ethical relativist who makes the judgment that one society is better than another contradicts himself Consider the judgment that present German state is a better society than Nazi Germany was in the 1940’s To reach this conclusion, the relativist would need establish a “standard” by which to judge one society better than another. This “standard” is what the relativist denies
C OUNTER -O BJECTIONS TO THE D IFFERING I DEALS O BJECTION “right” and “wrong” have no consistent meaning – they only reflect emotion
M ENTAL H EALTH O BJECTION TO E THICAL R ELATIVISM If “what is right in one group is wrong in another…” Where exactly does one group end and another begin?
C OUNTER -O BJECTION TO THE M ENTAL H EALTH O BJECTION Right and wrong are to be determined in the situation Right and wrong are to be determined by what the majority determine at the time and place Right and wrong are ultimately established by power or authority
R ICHARD B RANDT believed that moral rules should be considered in sets which he called moral codes A moral code is justified when it is the optimal code that, if adopted and followed, would maximize the public good more than any alternative code would. The codes may be society-wide standards or special codes for a profession like engineering.
E DWARD W ESTERMARCK it is not a valid step to conclude from the influence culture has on what is judged to be right or wrong, that culture actually makes things right or wrong. prescriptive ethics are what people ought to do
D ISCUSSION Consider an ethical dilemma of your own. Apply ethical relativism to your situation to help conclude what is right or wrong.