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Explain the features of moral relativism.

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Introduction

Lenae Frazer L6A Explain the Features of Moral Relativism Moral relativism is the belief that morality does not relate to any absolute moral standards of 'right' and 'wrong' by which everyone in the world should comply with. It believes that there are circumstances and situations in which actions or behaviour which are usually considered 'wrong' can be considered 'right'. Many of these circumstances are to do with religion, in which culture-bound traditions are frowned upon by outsiders but are acceptable to those within the culture and moral relativism respects their views and beliefs. Absolutism opposes moral relativism. It believes that there are rules and of 'right' and 'wrong' which apply to all people and are true for all time. It also believes that an immoral act is intrinsically wrong; it is not made wrong because of its situation or its results. Immanuel Kant was an absolutist and believed that there were absolute duties or categorical imperatives which were always right. An absolutist such as Kant, does not look at the situation from ones perspective, but objectively, and does not take into account the consequences of what a 'right' decision may have. For example an absolutist would say that killing in any situation is wrong so abortion is wrong. ...read more.

Middle

Cultural relativism is the approach which tries to make people understand that different cultures practice different traditions and that someone from another culture or religion should not judge those traditions or call the influences of those traditions on their decisions wrong. We should respect other cultures customs. However in cases such as the Al Quada in Afghanistan their culture believes that it is right to kill capitalist Americans-should relativists respect their beliefs? Or if a culture endorses torturing innocent people-should we accept this without debating whether it is 'right'? Even within cultures and communities there are differences of opinion. For example the Catholic Church believes it is wrong to have sexual intercourse unless it is for reproduction, but many devout Catholics use contraception, showing that conflict can arise even within communities. Joseph Fletcher was a relativist who suggested that the right moral behaviour can be different for different people, according to the circumstances in which they find themselves. In his article "situation ethics" Fletcher challenged the theory of rule keeping and said that the situation itself was the most important consideration when making a moral decision. Situation ethics does not follow any kind of absolute moral code and looks at situations subjectively and objectively to draw a suitable conclusion. ...read more.

Conclusion

They do not exist. He sees the existence of diverse ethical values expressed in different times and cultures as evidence that no moral absolute exists. He argues that our moral beliefs do not seem to shape the societies that we live in; it is the other way round, where our morality is shaped because of our society. Situation ethics allows people to make their own decisions and use their freedom of choice to do so. It explains why there are different views and opinions across the world; it supports diverse cultural expressions and prohibits the dominance of one single culture. However some of the views held by certain cultures are unacceptable to the rest of the world for example the Nazi's regime, and could be looked upon even by a relativist as wrong. However cultural relativists are unable to criticize other cultures and only say that it is not right for them. Absolutism would be able to clear away these arguments by providing fixed ethical codes by which all actions are measured. The world would be able to live under the same set of rules and there would be clear guidelines of behaviour. However the circumstance of a decision is very important and so the absolute rules should be taken into account and used as a vague guideline when making a relativist decision. ...read more.

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