July 20, 2010

Moral Relativism Vs. Moral Objectivism

These are quotes/summary from the book Moral Philosophy: A Reader which was edited by Louis P. Pojman. All words the quoted towards the copyright owner of these articles, and none belongs as a property of me.

Custom is King- Herodotus
Herodotus, The Histories of Herodotus, trans. Georgy Rawlinson (New York: Appleton, 1859)
For if one were to offer men to choose out of all the customs in the world such as seemed to them the best, they would examine the whole number, and end by preferring their own; so convinced are they that their own usage far surpass those of all others.
A Defense of Ethical Objectivism
Copyright Louis P. Pojman, 1996
John Ladd's quote is quoted here also:
Ethical relativism is the doctrine that the moral rightness and wrongness of actions vary from society to society and that there are not absolute universal moral standards on all men at all times. Accordingly, it holds that whether or not it is right for an individual to act in a certain way depends on or is relative to the society to which he belongs.
Let us examine what is diversity thesis: "simply a description that acknowledges the fact that moral rules differ from society to society". The dependency thesis claims "that individual acts are right or wrong depending on the nature of the society from which they emanate." Moral change also has occurred in history such that from the time the society had started until now.

In a sense we all live in radically different worlds. But the relativist wants to go further and maintain that there is something conventional about any morality, so that every morality really depends on a level of social acceptance. Not only do various adhere to different moral systems, but the very same society could (and often does) change its moral views over place and time.
Here is one example of subjectivism:
Subjectivism treats individuals like billiard balls on a societal pool table where they meet only in radical collisions, each aimed to his or her own goal and striving to do in the others before they themselves are done in. This atomistic view of personality is belied by the facts that we develop in families and mutual dependent communities in which we share a common language, common institutions, and similar rituals and habits, and that we often feel one another's joys and sorrows. As John Donne wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent."
There is one list to prove the fact about cultural relativism written by Melville Herskovits:
(1) If morality is relative to its culture, then there is no independent basis for criticizing the morality of any other culture but one's own.
(2) If there is no independent way of criticizing any other culture, we ought to be tolerant of of the moralities of other cultures.
(3) Morality is relative to its culture.
(4) Therefore, we ought to be tolerant of the moralities of other cultures.
So here is is confirmed that if we do not have independent moral basis in law, then we do not know why we obey. Then if we do not confirm the priority of the law through moral law, then our acts of civil disobedience against "unjust laws" does not occupy. "Both the validity of law and morally motivated disobedience of unjust laws are annulled in the favor of power struggle", confirms Louis P. Pojman.

Here is the summary of the three ethical relativism theses:
1. The Divinity Thesis: What is considered morally right and wrong varies from society to society, so that there is no moral principles accepted by all societies.
2. The Dependency Thesis: All the moral principles derive their validity from cultural acceptance.
3. Ethical Relativism: therefore, there are no universally valid moral principles, objective standards which apply to all people everywhere and at all times.
Absolutism
The absolutist believes that there are nonoverrideable moral principles which ought never to be violated. [...] One ought never to break a promise, for the principle, Do that act that has the most promise of yielding the most utility, is nonoverrideable principles, at least not in unqualified general form, and so  need not be an absolutist.
Here is the revised argument from the moral principles:
1. Objectively valid moral principles are those adherence to which meet the needs and promote the most significant interests of persons.
2. Some principles are such that adherence to them meets the needs and promotes the most significant interests of persons.
3. Therefore, there are some objectively valid moral principles.
The points are afterward explained through a story which is paraphrased here: You are in the kingdom of hell, watching all the suffering. They are all with eternal back itches that they cannot scratch their back because they are paralyzed in frontal position. Then you are transported to the heaven where they also have the itch with their hands the same way. But they can actually scratch their backs because every single of them there scratches each other's back in a circle.

Also, though it can be thought that absolutism and relativism are the only alternatives, conventionalism wins against everything else. A realist holds moral values that have independent existence. An anti-realist says that they do not have independent existence.  But objectivism claims that both exist because common nature, needs and goals are called by it.

The claim that cultural values have caused our change in mind and sensitivity towards what is right and wrong has galloped all over us. Cultural relativism does not link to cultural relativism and for that same reason, we are against ethnocentrism. Decline of religion in Western society led to nihilism and other relativism. Reasoning in God leads to decline in the culture.

The above statements were mostly written from Louis P. Pojman's "A Defense of Ethical Objectivism" and "Custom is King" by Herodotus which was published in the book Moral Philosophy: A Reader. "Custom is King" is contained in page 20, and "A Defense of Ethical Objectivism" is written in pages 38-52. No property of the work is copied but quoted in the names of the authors who hold their copyrights.

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