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Relativism and Morality - Research Paper Example

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Relativism and Morality Relativism and Morality The work ‘Some Moral Minima’ by Lenn E. Goodman shakes the very roots of relativism. As Mosser (2010) notes, relativism holds the basic view that there is no absolute truth, ethics, or principles…
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Relativism and Morality

Download file to see previous pages... Though Goodman (2010) does not deny the existence of relativism, he claims that there are certain basic human universals; and he also claims that terrorism, genocide, and polygamy are all beyond the scope of relativism as they are equally wrong in all culture. The first ‘wrong’ identified by Goodman is genocide. Genocide can be defined as the killing of people on the basis of a specific feature ranging from caste, creed color, religion or even lifestyle. One can undoubtedly say that genocide is wrong according to most cultures in the world. Thus it is possible to conclude that there are there are more ethical commonalities than ethical differences among cultures, supporting Goodman’s claim. However, one cannot ignore the Nazi concentration camps and the claims of the Nazi war criminals. Their claim was that they had just followed what was right according to their legal and cultural framework. Thus, it becomes evident that it is not possible to fully agree with what Goodman claims. The second issue in the list is terrorism (Goodman, 2010). Goodman makes the claim that no culture in the world finds terrorism morally acceptable. The mere fact is that many cultures in the world, at one time or another, adopted terrorism. For example, the American troops in Vietnam drew a pathetic picture in front of the guerilla tactics of Vietnamese. It is unlikely that Goodman forgot the Taliban and al Qaeda which claim that ‘jihad’ is the way to eternal life. For more examples, one can think about the way the colonies managed to struggle away from the European colonization in the last century. The mere fact is that in broad terms, every fight that does not follow internationally accepted war regulations (if any) comes under terrorism. Thus, Goodman goes seriously wrong in claiming that terrorism is not relative. Very similar is the case of polygamy. According to Goodman (2010), polygamy is universally accepted as ‘wrong’. In fact, polygamy is an accepted practice among many cultures including the Fundamentalist Mormon religion. Islamism too allows polygamy. The mere fact is that only those cultures which follow monogamy find polygamy as a ‘wrong’ practice and only those cultures spend much time dwelling into the issues of those women in polygamous families. For the polygamous societies, polygamy is just one part of their cultural life and they might be able to enlist a number of problems associated with monogamy. Thus, polygamy fails to become a universal wrong. Though it is possible to prove that the claims of Goodman are way off the mark, one has to admit that it is highly necessary to have some universal moral concepts. First of all, one can argue that giving much attention to cultural relativism will mar the growth of civilization. For example, the whole world condemns genocide at present. There was a time when the Nazi war criminals claimed in the Nuremberg war trials that they were just following what was permissible according to their cultural and legal system. However, the society has considerably changed since then, and at present, most societies consider genocide immoral. Secondly, relativism leads to self-refuting. For example, moral activists are stopped from taking steps as most of the atrocities in the world at present are right according to some societies. For example, there is the clitoridectomy or the circumcision of female genitalia. According to some cultures, this is acceptable and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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