How Dogmatism, Rationalism, and Relativism Affect Ethical Thinking - Essay Example

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This paper "How Dogmatism, Rationalism, and Relativism Affect Ethical Thinking" will analyze the way several approaches that might be identified in it, namely dogmatism, rationalism, and relativism, are able to affect ethical thinking of a person…
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How Dogmatism, Rationalism, and Relativism Affect Ethical Thinking
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To begin with, one should give a definition of each of them. Dogmatism, as it can easily be understood from the name, stands for an approach according to which ethical thinking of a person is heavily influenced by dogma which is a predetermined set of an idea that one is not able to change in any way. In other words, dogmatism provides a person with answers to a wide range of questions and does not require one to critically examine each case. It is quite obvious that under these conditions a person can hardly experience any freedom in the course of ethical analysis of a situation.
Contrary to the above-mentioned approach, rationalism urges a person to actively participate in the critical examination of the issues and claims that reason is the only viable way to verify the acquired knowledge. In other words, people are encouraged to use their minds to find answers to the questions with the help of their own reasoning. Thus, the biggest difference between the two approaches that were discussed so far might be exemplified in the following comparison: a person guided by dogmatism is similar to a train who follows the rails (dogma), while one who is guided by rationalism resembles a car which can go in multiple directions as long as the steering wheel (reasoning) is being turned.
Finally, there is another approach that is different from the above mentioned to. It is called relativism and, as one can guess for the term, suggests that ethical thinking should be engaged rigid categories of right and wrong, but argues that the same action might be viewed in a different light according to circumstances. Continuing the comparison made in the previous paragraph a person who is guided by relativism travels on foot which means that one is able to visit territories which are out of reach of a vehicle and is not limited in one’s movements in any way since there is not seen to follow any rules.
As one can easily see, dogmatism, rationalism and relativism present three different approaches to ethical thinking and feature three different degrees of freedom of a person. In the first case, ability to choose is limited by a predetermined dogma, in the second case, it is conditioned by reason which is defined by a person; finally, relativism puts the biggest amount of freedom in the hands of a person and allows one to make different judgment depending on a situation. Read More
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