The same action may be morally right in one society but be morally wrong in another. Unbridled Individualism. It also encourages us to explore the reasons underlying beliefs that differ from our own, while challenging us to examine our reasons for the beliefs and values we hold. Also, it is argued, it may be the case that some moral beliefs are culturally relative whereas others are not. In other words, we can acknowledge cultural differences in moral practices and beliefs and still hold that some of these practices and beliefs are morally wrong. That is, whether an action is right or wrong depends on the moral norms of the society in which it is practiced. Ethical Relativism Example. Stace's The Concept of Morals, Kant's Metaphysics of Morals: Summary & Analysis, Ethics of Care Theory: Carol Gilligan & Nel Noddings, John Stuart Mill: Utilitarianism, Quotes and Theory, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: Summary & Analysis, Ethical Issues of Lying, Cheating, Breaking Promises & Stealing, Baron d'Holbach's 'Freedom is an Illusion' Theory, Understanding Moral Relativism, Subjectivism & Objectivism, Margaret Mead, Anthropologist: Theories & Overview, What Is the Socratic Method? Certain practices, such as customs regarding dress and decency, may depend on local custom whereas other practices, such as slavery, torture, or political repression, may be governed by universal moral standards and judged wrong despite the many other differences that exist among cultures. The same goes for bribery in the business set up. It may be the case that those are killed who steal fowl, or who cut their upper teeth first, or who are born on Wednesday. Vari Hall, Santa Clara University500 El Camino RealSanta Clara, CA 95053408-554-5319, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, The Ethics of Going Back to School in a Pandemic, Systemic Racism, Police Brutality, and the Killing of George Floyd, COVID-19: Ethics, Health and Moving Forward, The Ethical Implications of Mass Shootings, Political Speech in the Age of Social Media, Point/Counterpoint: Democratic Legitimacy, Brett Kavanaugh and the Ethics of the Supreme Court Confirmation Process. For example, just because bribery is okay in some cultures doesn’t mean that other cultures cannot rightfully condemn it. On the contrary, in the matter of homicide, it may be held that one kills by custom his two children, or that a husband has a right of life and death over his wife or that it is the duty of the child to kill his parents before they are old. Now it is not. Our experts can answer your tough homework and study questions. Simply because some practices are relative does not mean that all practices are relative. Which goes on to say that there cannot exist a universal code of conduct. Such differences may lead us to question whether there are any universal moral principles or whether morality is merely a matter of "cultural taste." While the magnitude of debate is higher on Slavery as compared to pre-marital sex, it can't be denied that in the 19th and early 20th century, the Europeans and US mindset was of the view that slavery is an acceptable norm. The treatment of the Jews in Nazi society is morally reprehensible regardless of the moral beliefs of Nazi society. Cultures differ widely in their moral practices. Morality and being ethical doesn't go hand in hand. While some individuals or cultures or societies or geographies find the right to do, the others might have extremely radical views about it. Furthermore, members of the same society may hold different views on practices. This example stems from my personal experience from the days I worked in Africa and Asia. Definition & Examples, Structuralism and the Works of Levi Strauss, Aristotle's Virtue Ethics: Definition & Theory, Cultural Relativity: Definition & Examples, What Is Ethics of Care? For these philosophers, ethics is an inquiry into right and wrong through a critical examination of the reasons underlying practices and beliefs. For the ethical relativist, there are no universal moral standards -- standards that can be universally applied to all peoples at all times. But even if the theory of ethical relativism is rejected, it must be acknowledged that the concept raises important issues. The very tale of it, on the other hand, may be a matter for incredulous mirth, and the act itself, impossible to conceive as human possibility. Historical Relativism. But when the same company opens its subsidiaries or extends its business to Middle East countries, they have their hands tied. There are no objective and universal norms against which we can compute our subjective faith in ethics. The Western countries are to some extent even achieving that. Most philosophers disagree however. Slavery is a good example of this. This is a good and valid form of relativism. Two hundred years ago in America, slavery was the norm and morally acceptable. If ethical relativism is correct, there can be no common framework for resolving moral disputes or for reaching agreement on ethical matters among members of different societies. But such a view promotes social conformity and leaves no room for moral reform or improvement in a society. While some Eastern countries like in India, bribery is a way of getting business done, in other countries like the USA this is a major breach of law. Suicide may also be a light matter, the recourse of anyone who has suffered some slight rebuff, an act that constantly occurs in a tribe. Most ethicists reject the theory of ethical relativism. It may be the highest and noblest act a wise man can perform. Among some peoples, a person suffers torment at having caused an accidental death, among others, it is a matter of no consequence. The only moral standards against which a society's practices can be judged are its own. Ethical relativism is the theory that holds that morality is relative to the norms of one's culture. While such a practice would be condemned in our society, we would agree with these societies on the underlying moral principle -- the duty to care for parents.
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