Morality Relativism and Beliefs Essay

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One relativistic belief that I find that some people hold is regarding abortion. Some people say, “Well, I would never have one,” implying that there is something immoral or unjustified about the action (at least in their case), and then they will follow that up with a statement like, “But I don’t think other people should be denied the right to have one,” suggesting that there is in fact nothing immoral or unjustifiable about it. This appears to me to be a case of, “What’s not good for me is not necessarily bad for you.” While some philosophers, like Kant, might argue that relativism is part of understanding how morality must be viewed in individual cases, other philosophers will suggest that just as there is a subjective side to judgment there is also an objective side to judgment and that some actions can be judged objectively as immoral, even if subjectively the action may not be immoral (Fishman & McCarthy, 2013). So in this sense, relativism is like a thread that runs through all thinking about ethics and morality.

As Goodman (2010) points out, relativism is not even necessarily the right way to think about conflicts in how we view the morality of actions.
Context is actually more appropriate, and putting things into the right context can help people to better understand if one is being contradictory or rather if one is being discriminating. For example, Goodman (2010) states that “murder is wrong because it destroys a human subject. Warfare is not always wrong; it may be necessary to protect such subjects” (p. 88). This type of contextualization is important, especially since, as Midgely (1981) notes, moral judgment “is a human necessity” (p. 160). It is important to make moral judgments rather than to simply shrug them off with an attitude of relativism that bespeaks more to a disinterest in the issue than it does to a commitment to moral understanding. Rachels (1999) states that relativism “is not so plausible as it first appears to be” primarily because the conclusions reached in relativistic arguments do not follow from the premises presented—and, thus, they are not logical (p. 17).

Another belief that appears to be contradictory and that has recently been exposed in public is the idea that when a man exposes himself to a woman without her consent, it is sexual harassment. Yet, men….....

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Fishman, S., & McCarthy, L. (2013). Conflicting uses of ‘happiness’ and the human condition.” Educational Philosophy and Theory, 45(5), 509-515.

Goodman, L. (2010). Some moral minima. The Good Society, 19(1), 87-94.

Midgely, M. (1981). Trying out one’s new sword. Chapter Three: Ethical Relativism, 159-165.

Rachels, J. (1999). The challenge of cultural relativism. In Elements of Moral Philosophy. NY: McGraw-Hill.

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