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PostSubject: Questions for the 2nd Writing Assignment   Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:34 am

(Choose one.)
1. Identify the logical difficulties that go along with moral relativism.
2. Do you think moral relativism is true? problematic? Support your answer.
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delacruzjpe



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PostSubject: answer to question#1   Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:41 am

Logical Difficulties in Moral Relativism

As in previous discussions, there are various positions involved in the study of metaethics; one of which concerns moral relativism. Some philosophers would conceive moral relativism as a worldview that looks into ethical standards, morality, and positions of right or wrong as culturally based and therefore subject to a person’s individual choice. This definition can be expanded as in statements can be held true if the person who asserted such value-laden sentences believe in them. In this line of thought, words like “ought” and “should” are regarded meaningless.

Although moral relativism gives leeway to people in terms of reasoning, it usually ends up complicating things and yielding more difficulties. To wit, disagreements are usually drawn out of daily discourses, and a relative ethical standard may not sufficiently resolve such misunderstandings. Objectivists would argue that there should be universally recognized moral principles that can address and augment differences in judgments and evaluations. It is the case that what is seemingly upright or just, immoral or unjust in the eyes of a particular society may not mean the same to another. In a parallel analysis, C.S. Lewis points to the nature of most quarrels as a clue to what people truly believe; inherent in those quarrels is a concept of fairness as in “how would you like it if someone did that to you?” Lewis says that making such statement is like appealing to some kind of behavioural standard that we expect to live up to, consequently generating problems of arriving at a common ground. Inconsistency may also be raised as a problem, which may have apparent results to the manner by which people argue or speak their minds on particular issues. Since moral relativism allows differences in ethical decisions, a pre-judged case for instance may not apply to its antecedents.
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Nicha



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PostSubject: #1 Logical Difficulties of Moral Relativism   Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:48 am

Morality, as defined by Felix Montemayor, refers to the quality of goodness or badness in a human act. Moral, in a general sense, means “right” or “acceptable.” But how do people react about morality and about morals? Do some people believe that a certain act is good and on the other hand, do some people believe that a certain act is wrong? I have some friends who believe that abortion is acceptable while some of them believe that abortion is unacceptable. Japanese people accept the idea of suicide while Filipinos believe that those who commit suicide are insane. Does this mean that morals are relative? I say that morals are not relative.
Let me first discuss classical moral relativism before discussing its logical difficulties. Classical moral relativism, according to C. E. Harris, claims that firstly, there is disagreement in people's moral beliefs, secondly, the rightness or wrongness of moral beliefs can be determined only in relation to the culture or moral tradition of the individuals who hold them and lastly, individuals or social groups should adopt a tolerant attitude toward other individuals or social groups that hold different moral beliefs.
Now, let me discuss the logical difficulties of moral relativism according to C. E. Harris. Harris stated seven logical difficulties of the classical moral relativism.
The first criticism, according to Harris, states that there is a problem in defining the word “society” or “culture” to which a moral judgment is relative. We cannot easily say that people who belong to different societies may disagree in a moral issue or that people who belong to the same society may agree on a moral issue. There is also a problem in the classification of to where certain persons belong in a society. For example, we cannot say that all Filipinos belong to the same society.
The second criticism, according to Harris, is the implication that moral decision making is either artificially easy or impossibly difficult. There is a question on how some moral decisions are derived.
The third difficulty with relativism, as stated by Harris, is that it makes the notion of moral progress difficult to understand, much less accept. Harris used the case of “slavery.” Harris stated that slavery was once acceptable for a certain society but morally unacceptable for some societies. If people would say that the change of attitude toward slavery means moral progress then, for Harris, it is hard to make sense of the idea of “moral progress” if the relativity thesis is correct.
Harris states that the fourth criticism of moral relativism is the implication that moral reformers are always wrong. He used Martin Luther King as an example. Dr. King was a moral reformer who acted against the belief of most people in the South about segregation. Harris stated that if the truth of a moral view is determined in the moral standard of one's society and if South is considered as a society, then it follows that Dr. King acted against the truth. This would imply that Dr. King is wrong but some would still say that Dr. King is morally right . And this example, for Harris, is impossible to maintain from the standpoint of a classical moral relativism.
The fifth problem of moral relativism, according to Harris, is the implication that people from different societies and cultures are not really contradicting one another when making incompatible judgments. Harris stated that moral relativism does not agree with the usual way of understanding morality whenever some moral beliefs are incompatible with others.
Harris states that the sixth criticism is that relativism is incompatible with the univerzalisation principle. Harris stated that univerzalisation is when something is right for you, it is also right for me, provided the circumstances are the same. Relativism denies the univerzalisation princple. Moral relativism undermines the requirements of the univerzalisation principle.
The last problem of moral relativism is that it does not provide a basis for resolving intercultural conflicts. Harris stated that the obligation a person may feel to step outside his or her cultural viewpoint is difficult to explain from the standpoint of classical moral relativism.
I have also included Felix Montemayor's idea about relative morality. Montemayor, in his book Ethics: The Philosophy of Life, stated that relative morality is destructive of morality itself. There would be conflicting norms of morality if morals were made relative. And as Montemayor stated, each one would have his or her morality and can justify every good or bad act. This would mean that there will be no fundamental distinction between good and bad.
I have discussed the logical difficulties through the writings of C. E. Harris and Felix Montemayor. These writings helped me understand why morals are not relative.
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Cabral, D.R.



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PostSubject: answer to question number 2...   Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:10 am

Moral relativism espouses a liberal stand on morality, allowing people to do just about anything and everything as permitted by a particular society’s norms, values and beliefs, or an individual’s personal take on matters. This position has done away with a universal standard with which all acts, thoughts and deeds are measured in terms of their “rightness” and “goodness”, and further rests the burden of responsibility and accountability on the shoulders of the society or person under study, using their “customized” set of rules and code of conduct.

Moral relativism, however, makes us wonder what the justifications and grounds for such acts we somewhat consider “absolutely revolting” and “definitely despicable” are. For instance, there are tribal societies that still practice ritual cannibalism and headhunting. We can’t completely tell what those practices stand for, since these tribes lend themselves little for understanding, or are simply difficult for us to get the point. For one, we may think of these killings as means of population or social control, in the very best of our judgment, whereas these folks see this brutality as a special attraction to their ceremonies and festivities. In addition, we feel this natural inclination to raise our eyebrows in the mere mention of people eating human flesh and drinking fresh blood, or the thrill of the hunt for decapitated heads, which may probably suggest that we innately sanction certain behaviors but not others, or there are certainly some acts we consider nowhere close as to how we should treat a fellow human being.

Moreover, some can get away with murder (literally speaking, even) when moral relativism serves as the foundation governing our actions. Since there are no one right way in doing things, we can leisurely assert that we are always right, with whatever flimsy reasoning and half-witted arguments we have to defend ourselves. The relativistic nature of morality eases the pressure off making the right decisions every single time, since we have the option to sugarcoat and make things appear laden with a noble cause, when in fact we are only driven by self- interests. For instance, once can always say that “”..lying/cheating is permissible in certain contexts”. It may sounds reasonable alright, but we can’t readily distinguish if that person sincerely follows a strict ruling in picking out the right situations that call for such; that person may just lie and cheat at his own convenience, in his knowledge that he isn’t actually doing “the right thing”.

With so many voices being heard all at once, it would be rather impossible to get across an idea without being misinterpreted or misjudged. That being said, moral relativism instills in us a sense of pride for our own ideals that we go great lengths to defend, clearly setting-up an arena that fosters an intermingling of different opinions and takes on several matters. However, what happens is that in our crazed attempts to crush the opposition, either by brandishing our point or battering theirs, we develop a competitive atmosphere that leads to a wider divide between and among people who hold different beliefs.
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batiles



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PostSubject: Re: Questions for the 2nd Writing Assignment   Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:14 am

MORAL RELATIVISM IS PROBLEMATIC

Moral Relativism is a philosophical position which stands on the social, cultural and personal conditions generating on a certain individual. Moral propositions proposed by this position are solely based on what a certain individual personally thinks and feels regarding a moral problem or issue. These perceptions are characterized by the influences brought about by the society in which an individual has grown in, the culture in which an individual has known and adapted and the personal insights and beliefs that resulted from these. In other words, Moral Relativism is just based on subjective beliefs and not on objective thinking.

The problem with Moral Relativism is it that supports the subjective side of things too much that it would tend to neglect the essence of what is commonly bounded as right and wrong. If a wrong thing is done, it could be easily excused with societal, cultural and personal beliefs, making the wrong thing done, not so wrong after all. Or if a good thing is done it could be easily perceived as a bad thing if an incompatibility would exist between the behavior or perception and the cultural context in which the behavior is done or the perception is applied into. I need not cite examples for these for the problem with Moral Relativism is only characterized by one thing: limitation. With subjectivism, anything is possible, anything can be done and can permissible in any way…and because of this, morality is on loose grounds for there is no definite boundary between what is right and what is wrong, therefore making the concept of morality even questionable.
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montañoallan



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PostSubject: for the first question   Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:16 am

[justify]Logical Difficulties with Moral Relativism

Moral relativism is a principle or a concept in the study of Ethics that tells us that there are actually a number of true (moral) things over a single moral issue because of the differences in the moral beliefs we take in. It states that there is no universal truth to be accepted since truth shall is relative depending upon the culture, traditions and other circumstances that one lives in. These differences that we have play a major role in telling the truthfulness of our belief and consequently, our actions. On the reference provided for the class (Are Morals Relative?), classical moral relativism was discussed. The discussion centered on the explanation and scrutiny of the three main theses that moral relativism holds. These are diversity, relativity and toleration.

However, classical moral relativism is a subject to many logical difficulties.

Assuming that moral relativism is indeed true, there are a number of problems that would most likely arise. First, if what is true is dependent on a culture, then all cultures have their own sets of what is true and false, what is moral and what is not, therefore, there is no single truth. With this fact at hand, it would be automatic that there will be no chance at all to check the validity of each culture’s belief. Say for example the timeless example of the relativity of beauty. Beauty, as we know and as I believe, varies among nations – black or white, tall or short and etc. Each country or each race at least, believes that they are beautiful. Applying and connecting the difficulty of moral relativism, we are able to believe but we are never able to check or verify. Why? Because foremost there is no universal standard to tell what is true and what is not. (In my example, who is beautiful and who is not).

Granted that the absence of a unified code / standard for evaluation is okay, another problem arises when one values his / her judgment over the other. For example, though we know that beauty is relative, a conflict may arise when a certain race from the West claims that they are the most beautiful. In the context of moral relativism, conflicts arise when relativism is seen but rarely accepted. This may happen in a situation where in one claims that the belief of the other is false basing it from his point of view.
The theory, being the one on the extreme left of universalism, is problematic. We cannot just say that the morality of our actions is relative, when in fact; there is a dominating view in this world that we live in.

Overall, the concept of relativism is in fact a vague one. If moral relativism will be used, time will come that there will be no immorality or any wrong doings. As what the article has stated, in a sense, moral relativism provides justification for some people who actually intend to do wrong things.

In a certain situation, seeing all sides of the story is relevant, but in the end, we will find out that there is only one truth.[/justify]
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Catindig, TJJFP



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PostSubject: Re: Questions for the 2nd Writing Assignment   Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:45 pm

Moral relativism is the is the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect objective and/or universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. 1 In other words, there is no absolute universal standard on which to judge the truth of a proposition. Moral values are usually appreciated only within cultural boundaries.

This position has several difficulties that will be discussed further. One example is that of descriptive relativism, those who accept the existence of fundamental disagreements about the right course of action even when the same facts obtain and the same consequences seem likely to arise.1 The problem with this is that opposing moral beliefs could hold true simultaneously, which presents a logical problem as acknowledging this is tantamount to rendering the argument useless. Why argue when both stands are right, even though they are diametrically (more or less) opposed to each other. It just doesn’t make sense.

Another difficulty that is related to the first one is moral judgments now resemble aesthetic considerations (because a wrong and a right can both be right, which doesn’t follow when using logic). Remaining resistant to rational analysis is not helping moral relativism’s case.

In the case of what is right or wrong, the claim by moral relativists that there is no universal standard on this proves difficult to follow as societies separated not only temporally but geographically as well have showed to espouse some general beliefs. For example, civilizations have argued whether a man could have just one or five wives, but little evidence has been found to say that a civilization ever condoned a man to having any woman he wants. Also, the presence of popular moral figures as Jesus and Ghandi who reinforced their current moral system in their respective societies (and not create a whole new system of morality) lampshades the difficulty in justifying relativism’s claim of values limited by cultures.

In conclusion, that one cannot verify moral judgments by empirical means presents a self-contradiction. The statement "X is meaningless if it isn't subject to verification" cannot be verified by the very criterion set forth by the proposition.1 This is not to say relativism is totally illogical, but a limited application would be less susceptible to logical pitfalls.

1- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_relativism
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ortiz



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PostSubject: Moral Relativism   Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:36 pm

Moral relativism, most especially subjective relativism, comes with some difficulties. Subjective relativism –morality differs from person to person depending on his or her preferences or values-in contrast to cultural relativism is more problematic. There are three reasons by which moral relativism is a tempting yet unrealistic view of morality.

Subjective relativism assumes that no person will be offended with the actions or the views of that person, which is next to impossible; especially when we each hold our on view of morality, there is great probability that there will be disagreement. Therefore, to live in a world where subjective relativism is the moral view is to live in a world of isolation which is unrealistic. Those exhibiting deviant behavior in our present view of morality we would have to excuse in the world of subjective relativism. To live in a world of subjective relativism is to live in a world of isolation.

Subjective relativism also assumes that each one of us has his or her won moral code. This moral code may be similar to one person and very different to the other. Because of this, there can be no universal moral code such as the constitution that can delineate lawful and unlawful acts. Although morality does not equate with the legal, the law offers us an idea or a reinforcement of what we already know as right from wrong. In subjective relativism, a person cannot contest with the moral code of the other because each person has his or her right to formulate his own moral code according to his or her own preference.

Cultural relativism, on the other hand, protects peoples of different culture from being imposed on by other people. Ethnicity is preserved. However, there is also a tension today between independence of people’s way of life and the drive for globalization. Globalization does not only entail political or economic repercussions, it also includes the cultural aspect of a society. To speak of culture is to speak of morality.

In summary, relativism, especially in the subjective sense isolates an individual from the community, entails that each of us may have views that will strongly disagree with each other and lastly, cultural relativism, although respects the ethnicity of groups of people, creates tension with the drive to globalize. In the end, to avoid disagreement, which is our innate desire according to psychology, we would have to compromise. This compromise will lead to a single moral code that will be universally applied.
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Azarraga



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PostSubject: Re: Questions for the 2nd Writing Assignment   Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:52 pm

Moral Relativism, at face value, sounds enticing. More likely, one is inclined to think that moral relativism gives a win-win solution to all moral dilemmas existing in various cultures all over the world. It seemingly provides the solution on how one should view other beliefs. Those who adhere to the idea of moral relativism, for example, are usually bound by these 3 theses: the diversity, relativity, and tolerant theses. This thought entails that moral beliefs are different across different cultures and that the truth value of these moral beliefs rests on the morality of the society by which these beliefs belong. This second premise leads to the claim that there are multiple truths in ethics as there are multiple problems. Thus, according to the third thesis, societies then adopt a tolerant attitude toward other societies since no belief is taken as the absolute truth. It sounds feasible and plausible but if one goes a notch deeper, one can find how severely problematic this is when applied. Harman’s version of moral relativism which is more sophisticated provides inner and outer judgments whereby one passes judgment on a person, the former, and on the action of the person, the latter.

So what exactly are the logical difficulties in moral relativism? First, classical moral relativism assumes that a person is strictly defined by its society and its culture. Meaning, the thoughts, beliefs and actions of an individual is automatically associated with that person’s society. This is false since knowing what each person in a society thinks is a difficult task. Also, there is no guarantee that each member of a society has the same morals with another. Another thing is that society and culture are not defined. How can one say how a person belongs to a society? Or how can one say that a person is influenced by the culture he/she belongs in? What is culture in the first place? Religion? Race?

Looking deeply, as expounded by Harris, morals are defined by the circumstance one is in. And these circumstances are not fully entrenched by a society's belief system. So attributing differences in morals to differences in culture is invalid since it is not the case all the time. Another difficulty in classical moral relativism is that its implication that moral change or moral reform is always wrong. Based on the readings, it is postulated that the old beliefs which have been practiced for the longest time and are carried to the next are always right. This restricts the sophistication of mankind in their sense of rightness and wrongness in terms of its validity. This is very problematic since clearly, one cannot apply every belief that was accepted before. In connection to this, what was true before may be wrong today.

In conclusion, I find moral relativism very problematic even if it does aid one to understand how people from different cultures think and how their actions are justified. However, I don’t think that there exist simultaneous truths when it concerns the same essence. Example, Country A prohibits abortion while Country B encourages filtering of babies. One, on the basis of moral relativism, cannot just say that both moral beliefs are true since their culture has a different take on a general principle. This is the topnotch difficulty of moral relativism, it will be hard to arrive at a general, single truth. This poses a great deal of difficulty especially when it comes to state laws and international laws. In today's interconnected world, the idea of coming up with a compromising moral decision is impossible if one takes moral relativism as a guiding thought.
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manalo



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PostSubject: Re: Questions for the 2nd Writing Assignment   Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:56 pm

Question No. 1
WHAT ARE THE LOGICAL DIFFICULTIES IN MORAL RELATIVISM?

The concept of relativism or relativity itself can be manifested in our everyday living with the people we interact with or more so in the society we live in. It is our uniqueness from one another that dictates our diversity down from our beliefs to the values that we choose to adapt in our lives. However, relativism is not as simple as to be able to distinguish what is beautiful in my eyes and not for anybody else. There are even more important issues to be further discussed and settled under the so-called relativism of “morality.”
Assuming that morality is really relative, many logical difficulties come along with it especially in the settling of disputes among individuals who belong to different societies and cultures. First, since the term “relative” means there is no standard basis for what is right from wrong, moral from immoral or even legal from illegal, it is difficult for us to make concrete judgments in particular cases. Most of the time it just ends up in the consideration or toleration of the culture of one party where they belong and the principles or practices on what they deem is acceptable. Second is that relativism here has become an excuse or defense to be acquitted from actions not necessarily crimes that can be punishable by law. This can be unfair to the other party oppressed. Another setback is that there is a very thin line telling whether an action is an act of sacrifice for the greater good or just for self-interest since there is no one strict code in their distinction.
We live not only in different times but in different societies with diverse cultures as well. These factors are what shape our moral judgments. Moral relativism is not a matter of forcing one’s belief also to be the belief of another for the concept of universalism does not exist in the world of relativity. In the end it all boils down to the differing value judgments and belief systems that we have been exposed to plus the circumstances that helped in slowly incorporating such morals in our very own system.
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Salinas



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PostSubject: Re: Questions for the 2nd Writing Assignment   Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:01 pm

Question No. 2
Is Moral Relativism True? Give Reasons

On the article written by Louis Pojman, moral relativism was discussed as a theory stating that there are no universally valid moral principles; but that all moral principles are valid relative to culture or individual choice. It is distinguished from moral skepticism in a way that the latter, views that there are no valid moral principles at all. Accordingly, moral rightness and wrongness of actions differs from society to society and that there are no absolute universal moral standards binding on all men at all times.
Analyzing the above statements, arguments that would assert moral relativism true can be arrived. Such arguments are as follows;

1. There are no moral principles accepted by all societies since what is considered morally right and wrong varies from society to society.
2. Cultural acceptance was the derivation of the validity of all moral principles.
3. Therefore, there exists no universally valid moral principles, objective standards which apply to all people everywhere and at all times.

Moral relativism is true as it registers the fact that moral rules from society to society. On the first thesis provided by Pojman, called the Diversity Thesis (and is identified with Cultural relativism), it would be very hard to derive one “true” morality on the basis of observation of various societies’ moral standards. There is enormous variety in what may count as a moral principle in a given society; that human condition is malleable in the extreme which allows any number of folkways on moral codes.
Moreover, moral relativism is true since, as asserted on the Dependency thesis, individual acts are right or wrong depending on the nature of the society from which they emanate. What is considered morally right or wrong is seen ion a context, depending on the goals, wants, beliefs, history, and environment of the society; thus, making everyone culturally-determined beings. For instance, Orientals show respect by covering the head and uncovering the feet; whereas Occidentals do the opposite, but both adhere to a principle of respect. Hence, moral relativists insist that the very validity of the principles is a product of the culture and that different cultures will invent different valid principles.
In addition, individuals’ different orientations, values, and expectations govern their perceptions; consequently, values are grounded in the unique history of the community. Morality, then, is the set of common rules, habits, and customs which have achieved the approval of the society over time as facts. Thus, morality really depends on a level of social acceptance.
Lastly, the conclusion that there are no absolute or objective moral standards binding on all people is true as supported by the two theses. If different moral principles arise from culture to culture and if all morality is rooted in culture, then it follows that there are no universal moral principles valid for all cultures and people at all times. ●●●


Additional references:
Louis Pojman. “Who’s to Judge?” Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life. Introductory Readings in Ethics. 4th edition (USA: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1997) pp. 241-253.
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israel barrios



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PostSubject: answer to question number 1. Logical difficulties in moral relativism   Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:23 pm

Moral Relativism at first glance, seems to be the answer to 'prehistoric' questions that are being debated until now. Questions such as "Is abortion right or wrong?", "Is it wrong to kill people?" etc. Societies vary and even at the individual level, every person is in itself unique. Thus, there is no clear-cut yes or no answer to general questions. Instead, issues are right or wrong relative to the beliefs of the society in which such moral issues occur. And this is basically what moral relativism is all about. Moral Relativism, at its simplest, means that moral standards are relative. But if moral standards are relative,and any of our positions/stand on any topic may be considered right, wrong or both, then there would be no standards anymore. Thus, we have a dilemma.

For example, most of us may agree that it is justified to kill a person in self-defense. But in some tribal societies, killing is allowed. In fact, some of them even kill people just for rituals. If we use the moral standards of our society, such act is immoral. But if we apply the moral relativism theory, then such actions would be justified because their society believes that killing people for ritual or sacrificial purposes is alright and morality is relative to the beliefs of a society. So, we have no right to tell them that what they are doing is wrong, and consequently, such actions would continue to exist.

Another problem is that, individuals within the same society thinks differently. For example, all the members of our philo171 class belong to the same society. However, when asked about the issues of abortion etc, it is evident that each individual has his/her own views about it. If moral relativism is relative to the beliefs of the society, what happens if the members of the society itself have varied beliefs? Will morality be relative now to the individual? If morality becomes relative to the individual, then it would be much more complicated and there would totally be no standard anymore.

Thus, I think that even though moral relativism looks practical and very promising in resolving disputes/debates over certain issues, its assumptions and its application would inevitably bring chaos to the society considering that everything may be considered right relative to the beliefs of the individual or society.

And personally, although I think this is not really related to the question, I think that the problem arises when people seeks to find universal answers to general questions and yet, provides specific conditions to defend their positions. Is abortion right or wrong? This is clearly a general question. Proponents of abortion would say that it is absolutely right. Anti-abortion peeps would say otherwise. But they will defend their stands by giving particular cases as examples why it should be right or wrong. We all know that abortion can be considered moral or immoral based on a particular situation. And if that's the case then there is no way of achieving an absolute yes or no answer. The problem could be resolved if both parties would acknowledge that some of their points are right and the opposing party has their points as well and by agreeing on certain things especially on the selection of the standards to be used.
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Pilarta-Lesly



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PostSubject: Question #1   Fri Dec 05, 2008 2:05 am

Developing one’s own moral concept is a continuing process. We acquire values at home from our parents and the elders, at school during classroom discussions and through our interactions with teachers and classmates, at church everytime we hear mass and by just simply observing our society. We have come to learn these morals and verify them through time. We may have moral values different from that of others.

Moral values, as many put it, varies from person to person and from culture to culture. This refers to the two types of relativism, namely: subjective and cultural. Subjective relativists may defend their morals according to their preferences. On the other hand, cultural relativists believe that their actions and behaviors are parallel to the values upheld by the whole society or culture as a whole. This provides convenience when it comes to justifying why people act the way they did.

Although relativism frees us from engaging in heated arguments, it does not mean that the theory itself is devoid of logical difficulties. Harris presented two versions of relativism: classical and contemporary. The two versions, however ideal, poses problems which lead to its rejection by various philosophers. For instance, it does not define to what particular society or culture a moral principle is considered to be relative. It asserts something that seems to be too broad making it impossible for us to delineate to which this and that specific judgment is held valid or not. This means that when two persons’ ideas contradict in a single issue even if living in the same society will invalidate the claim of cultural relativism. Secondly, the concept of moral progress becomes vague and unacceptable. If people’s morals are reduced to being relative, how can we explain the change of heart in certain issues. Slavery as presented in the book, and more contemporary the toleration of homosexuals in the society today. We can remember that during the early times they were burned to death. Also, moral reforms, if indeed morals are relative, are deemed wrong. It means that we are not in the position to change or at least modify some of the beliefs we advocate in particular time. As exemplified by Dr. Martin Luther King in his protest against segregation in the American society. Another problem with this is it does not establish the truth or falsity of incompatible statements made by people from different cultures. I may say that this act is right, and wrong for you at the same time because my beliefs are different from yours. Lastly, if we hold the claims of relativism we may never be able to compromise disputes between individuals and cultures. What if we disagree on something but that of which we both did according to our own beliefs and insisted that our behavior is relative. How can we come to an agreement?
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tuason



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PostSubject: answer   Fri Dec 05, 2008 3:28 am

Moral Relativism

Moral relativism asserts that morals are relative according to two senses: first, morals are subjective to the preferences of individuals according to their beliefs and second, cultural which states that right and wrong, good and evil are relative to a culture, to a way of life that is practiced by a whole group of people.

In the question whether all morals are relative, it is problematic to make a conclusion. Moral relativists face arguments regarding their assumptions. The diversity thesis, one of the frameworks of moral relativism along with relativity and toleration theses, claims that human cultures reveal a variety of moral beliefs. This argument seems to be safe against attack because in fact, different societies and cultures have very different moral values. For example, in Eskimo culture, killing old people is right while in America, it is wrong. However, this argument has an unspoken assumption which is that moral rightness comes from obedience to cultural values. That is, it is always right to obey one’s culture’s values. When combined with the stated premise that values differ with cultures, we can get the conclusion that moral rightness differs with cultures. That is like saying, what is wrong in one culture is right in another. This means that is presupposes the very moral relativism it is supposed to prove. The relativist can only be a status-quo conservative having no higher standard than his culture.

In addition, moral relativists claim that telling someone that his or her morality is wrong is intolerant and relativism tolerates all views (toleration thesis). However, this argument is misleading. For example, evil should never be tolerated. Does this mean that we should tolerate a rapist’s view that women are objects to be abused? Also, it is contradicting to its own principle because it does not tolerate intolerance. Moreover, moral relativism does not provide explanation why everyone should be tolerant in the first place. I think, the very fact that moral relativism commands everyone to be tolerant even when we disagree is based on the higher rule that everyone should always treat other people fairly-and this no longer accounts to relativism. Furthermore, toleration thesis does not necessarily follow from the other theses- diversity and relativity. This is so because if one’s culture has toleration as principle, we may be obligated to be tolerant. Or if the toleration principle is not part of the moral beliefs of another culture, the members of that culture have no moral obligation to practice tolerance toward us, even if we believe in toleration.

Moreover, moral relativism has difficulties in other aspects. One, moral relativists did not provide definition of “society” or “culture” to which a moral judgment is relative. Two, there is such a thing as moral progress. If moral relativism is true, then there wouldn’t be. For example, slavery and genocide were always bad, but lots of people did not know. When people of greater moral insight came along, they made genuine moral discoveries that resulted to genuine moral progress. However, moral relativists cannot acknowledge this. This will result to moral paralysis. Three, moral relativism is incompatible with the universalization principle which says that if something is right for you, it is also right for me, provided the circumstances are the same. Four, moral relativism does not provide a basis for resolving conflicts. And last, the very fact that we have words such as right, wrong, etc., show that these things really exist. If morality is truly relative, these words would have no meaning. We would only say, “That seems to be bad to me” and not, “That is wrong”.

In conclusion, I believe that with these shortcomings of moral relativism, morals are not relative. At first, the assumptions of moral relativism are persuasive in the sense that it provides some basic explanations regarding the differences of moral values in different cultures. However, at a closer look, one can find flaws with its assertions. If morals are relative, how can we arrive at a standard which is basically the aim of morality?
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Mercado



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PostSubject: Logical Difficulties   Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:45 am

Relativism as expressed in ordinary conversation asserts that “what anyone believe is true for that person.” Thus, the moral relativist approach is established on cultural diversity based either on subjective and cultural authority. Each individual practicing socio-cultural norms is a right unto itself. This view denies the existence of any absolute or universally ethical truths. There is no absolute truth, but only relative truth.

Based upon this logical reasoning, morality is equated with the practices and beliefs of the society. Then, morality becomes habitual. If it is the norm of the society, then it is considered morally right. Nevertheless, the question is not only how to determine the ‘norm’ of the society but also who determines the dominant ‘norm’. This view implies that morality becomes arbitrarily based on the desires of the people of the society at a certain period. Traditionally accepted moral principles may not be correct and is subject to change. Relativism’s support to the dominant ‘norm’ and acknowledgement of the majority entail that there is no need to change this views and practices.

Hence, there is no objective moral truth – moral judgment may be true for one person or culture and false for another. Moral disagreements can be equally true within the cultural context. Different practices may exemplify the same values and conversely, the same practices may exemplify different values. But the claim states that cultures are morally equal and that no culture is morally better than any other. The possibility of the rational and moral superiority of one culture over another is intolerable. Ethical relativism maintains that we cannot make moral judgments about other cultures. However, this is only feasible when cultures do not have to interact with one another. The failure lies in this assumption; thus, valid only for societies in isolation. The reality is that today’s world is an overlapping of cultures toward a single global community.

The major goal of an ethical theory is to resolve inevitable and apparently irresolvable moral disagreements. But without a standard of measurement for analysis and comparison, conflicts will remain irresolvable. No objective standard can be used to judge one societal code better than another. Morality will remain the same, without moral progress only changes. The result is chaos and disorder.
Convenience of the assumptions of relativism explains its general acceptability regardless of its implications. However, moral relativist view of morality is a contradiction in itself. The moral relativist theory still is inherently flawed in its interpretation and understanding of the nature of morality. If the Theory of Ethical Relativism is true, then it is relative in itself. Different context calls for different application of moral standards. But, same moralities and consequently, moral standards can exist across different traditions and cultures.
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De Vera, Rosemarie



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PostSubject: Logical difficulties with moral relativism   Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:06 pm

C.E. Harris, in his book “Applying Moral Theories,” gave two versions of moral relativism – the classical and the contemporary version constructed by G. Harman. The three theses that support the classical version are the diversity thesis, relativity thesis, and the toleration thesis. On the other hand, Harman’s version of relativism comes up with the concepts inner and outer judgments to give stronger support for moral relativism. However, as what is supposed to be discussed in this essay, there are logical difficulties or problems with moral relativism.

The diversity thesis states that people indeed have different moral beliefs. But, this does not mean that the differences of practices of people in every society are within the scope of morality. This diversity could not explain every difference of practices because sometimes, certain actions are not under morality but actually depends on the circumstances, for instance, the case of the Eskimos. Leaving one of their companion if he/she would cause delay for their group is one of their practices, but this does not mean that it is considered moral but only what is needed by their situation or else, more of them could die. It is for their survival. At this point, it shows that the mere practice of an action is not the indicator of being moral or not.

The relativity thesis, in relation to the diversity thesis, states that the rightness or wrongness of an act is relative or in relation to the group he/she belongs or culture that he/she is used to be. By using relativism as a reason for every action, it seems to serve as an excuse for it. For example, if I am a cannibal, then it is alright to eat humans because it is the practice of our group and someone who is not a cannibal cannot say that it is wrong to it humans. It is moral in our culture to eat humans therefore, who are you to tell me what is right or wrong? This leads to another difficulty of being no place for moral reformers. It is like we should just mind our own business. The only way to change a certain group’s practices if within that group there will be an agreement that they should change, in my opinion. However, it also seems that with moral relativism, it teaches us to be tolerant (toleration thesis) of such actions (eating humans for example) and there will also be no place for moral progress. By being relativists, we allow the traditional practices to continue, because it is their belief, that we could not judge their actions because morality is relative. What are considered immoral for them will only be the ones that they are not practicing. People, who believe otherwise, like us now that eating humans is immoral, do not have the right to change their beliefs, no moral progress. Therefore, eating humans will always be their practice.

If morality is relative, then we should accept every belief and practices of different societies and groups without analyzing their beliefs and practices. But if this is the case, then what is the point of studying morality and providing standards of what is right or wrong, and good or bad, if every society have the right to provide their own set of beliefs or morality? Indeed there are certain cultural and religious beliefs, for example, that we should respect, because some of us come from different cultures and have the freedom to choose our religion. But this “respect” should not be equated as the “right way”. Even every individual have different opinions or beliefs, there must be a point that every one will agree upon, which is the key to solving different conflicts.
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manlangit



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PostSubject: Logical Difficulties   Sat Dec 06, 2008 1:15 am

Moral Relativism is a philosophical view that what is right or wrong and good or bad is not absolute but variable and relative, depending on the person, circumstances, or social situation. Rather than claiming that an action's rightness or wrongness can depend on the circumstances, or that people's beliefs about right and wrong are relative to their social condition, it claims that what is truly right depends on what the individual or the society thinks is right. Because what people think will vary with time and place, what is right will also vary.

The claims of Moral Relativism is quite problematic because it rely on ambigous definition of "society" or "culture" to which moral judgement is relative. The first difficulty that Moral Relativism poses is that it can not resolve comflicts. For example if in a given "society" there is no consensus whether pre-marital sex is right or wrong, the issue of rightness or wrongness of pre-marital sex would be undetermined. Second, Moral Relativism has no moral standard and the notion of moral progress is difficult to understand, much less accept. Like what was mentioned in the reading material, slavery was once acceptable, now we do not find slavery acceptable but most of us would say that the idea that slavery is wrong is better thatn slavery is right. it is hard for Moral Relativist to accept that some of the things today that are considered morally wrong were once accepted by "society". Third, for moral rerlativists, moral reformers are always wrong. Moral paralysis exist because one can not tell another that what he/she is doing is morally wrong. People like Martin Luther King were considered wrong because they mess with the "society's" way of thinking. relativist may say that they are imposing their own "truths" to the whole "society". Fourth difficulty is that a thing can be right and wrong at the same time because to moral relativist the rightness and wrongness of a thing depends on one's "society" or "culture". It implies that if one thinks that abortion is right while the other thinks that abortion is wrong, abortion becomes right and wrong at the time. next difficulty that moral relativist has yet to solve is that it lacks moral standard and is incompatible with universalism. Moral relativist srgues that universalism can be applied to them if and only if the dilemma would be argued in a "society" or "culture" that has members who thinks the same way. For example a group of egoistic people would argue on the issue of same sex marriage. But if the issue would be argued by an altruist and an egoist it would not be resloved.

Moral Relativism has a lot more of straitening to do with their view because their view is somewhat self refuting
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Camunay



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PostSubject: logical difficulties with moral relativism   Sun Dec 07, 2008 10:46 am

In moral relativism, there is a belief that different people have different moral truths; and those differences among them will not in anyway affect each other. If this will be the proper way to address the case, then evaluating the goodness and its counterpart would not affect the judgment of things as a whole. It will not make sense at all. That is what the definition suggests; moral relativism believes that the justification of moral judgments is not absolute; instead, it is relative to an individual or a particular group of people. Things will get muddled. Everything would be in a perfect disorder.


When a person does something wrong, for example he killed someone, he should be subjected for imprisonment. On the other hand, in moral relativism, there is a huge possibility that he would be freed from the crime he made. That is, if according to his culture, killing is acceptable. The problem starts when he lives in a different place, far different from his own and the new place believes the other way. What is in store for him to do? Do his usual thing and not mind other people’s culture? There develops the big problem with moral relativism. Right and wrong could substitute for each other. This will not help resolve conflicts and could hinder progress for a better moral understanding.


We can not live in a world with such a way of life. Even though we have these differences in our cultures and beliefs, we must at least have something common that will guide our actions towards each other, and that will enable us to decide whether an action is right or wrong, good or bad, for the society as a whole. Yes, I agree that every individual has his own beliefs but he does not live alone. People live with each other and there is a need for them to understand and adapt with their environment in order for them to survive and keep their lives away from such difficulties.
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Palma



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PostSubject: Some Logical Difficulties Regarding Moral Realism   Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:19 am

In general, moral realism posits that (1) moral beliefs are cognitivist in a sense (2) moral facts do exist; (3) moral judgements are objective, or, there trully is a category of right and wrong; or moral and immoral; and (4) morality exists independent and/or beyond of our own cognition.

Philosophers and academicians say that moral realism should be given credit for in a way that it allows the ordinary rules of logic (modus ponens, etc.) to be applied straightforwardly to moral statements. It is also capable to resolve moral disagreements. For instance, if two moral beliefs contradict one another, realism says that they cannot both be right, and therefore everyone involved ought to be seeking out the right answer to resolve the disagreement.

On the other hand, there are also some criticisms regarding this 'paradigm'. Personally, what I find contradicting about it can be summed up in one phrase: it is ETHNOCENTRIC. The question of "right and wrong in the eyes of whom?" arises. We can claim that we have what we call a "UNIVERSAL CATEGORIZATION OF MORAL AND IMMORAL", but objectively pondering about it makes us say, that in itself can be questionable.

Can we scientifically say that we have a universal dileanation of right and wrong? If so, how are we going to explain the different cultures? Particularly those who may have not been in touch with other societies or groups? Murder, for example, is one of the gravest if the gravest violation of morality in the world. If we believe so, how are we going to explain the practices of the head-hunting tribes? Or other tribes and socities that practice cannibalism?

Aside from murder, there are cultures that practice "first degree marriages", which in many cultures like ours might call it incest. There are also societies that are more tolerant to homosexuality and homosexual marriages and there are those that condone it. Even sentencing death to convicts is viewed differently across countries and cutures.

If we woud really hold on to the claim that there is a black and white in morality and that it exists materially, we would be in constant conflict with the "every day realities" that exists in the different parts of the world. Even with the cognitive paradigm incorporated with the MR, it cannot sufficiently defend MR. If we will remember, cognitivism works around how we attach "meanings" to certain stimuli. And that alone supports the idea that we develop our consciousness based on the base and superstructure that we were born into.
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QUILICOT



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PostSubject: THE LOGICAL DIFFICULTIES OF MORAL RELATIVISM   Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:51 pm

The premise of ethical relativism is quite an attractive philosophy, especially to the beginning philosophers.. Ethical relativists believe that there are no moral absolutes, no moral right and wrongs. Instead, right and wrong are based on social norms.

Premise I: There are no moral absolutes, no moral right and wrongs. Instead, right and wrong are based on social norms.

According to Ruth Benedict, morality is culturally relative because values are shaped by culture. Since there are contrasting cultures, temperaments will differ in every culture. Example of these are modern belief of what is human rights or human nature in contrast to ancient practices like slavery, head hunting, cannibalism, practice of homosexuality, etc. Hence, majority of individuals are shaped to the fashions of their cultures, despite the very small number of deviant.

Premise II: Because there are NO moral absolutes, we therefore infer that there is NO absolute truth.


Because there are no absolute truths, it means that ethical relativism itself is not an absolute truth. Hence, the philosophy refutes itself. In Allen Wood’s article on Relativism, “relativism is true for the relativist, while the denial of relativism is true for the non relativist. So when a relativist asserts a proposition, he isn’t asserting that his proposition is absolutely true, but only true to him.” With this, a conflict arises and we are dumbfounded by what is truth and therefore, the universal sense of the word will cease to exist.

Ethical relativism is most difficult kind of relativism because: A. people never agree on ethical questions and B. there is no way of knowing any absolute truth about ethics. But then, with the existence of jus cogens (hard law) in public international law and certain universal truths, e.g. killing is wrong, we see that there is indeed laws that adhere to universal truths and therefore make the relativist’s position doubtful.

To save it from the threat of self refutation, we must hold that two more premises are true and absolute (exempting it from the rule that there are no absolute truths):
i. Ethical relativism itself is not an ethical belief.
ii. Ethical relativism does not share the features of ethical beliefs which make them only relatively true and not absolutely true.
According to Wood, “the relativist’s main reason for thinking that ethical beliefs cant be absolutely true is that they are endlessly controversial and ethical relativism shares this feature with ethical beliefs: people don’t agree about ethical relativism either. Moreover, ethical relativists WANT to treat ethical relativism as ethical beliefs (endorsing to tolerate people with diff. ethical beliefs from our own) making the 2 premises doubtful.”

In conclusion, we see that ethical relativism is inherently flawed. Since a relativist doesn’t absolutely believe that killing is wrong, then it doesn’t believe that killing is wrong which means that it cant be true that killing is wrong. It shows that relativists cant consistently have any ethical beliefs of their own.
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