Moral Relativism justified
Every man in this world defends his concepts of what is morally right or what is morally wrong, otherwise known as ethics. If ethics wasn’t studied or systematized, concepts that shape our every day life would be questioned with lack of knowledge, just as if any other scholarly subject wasn’t studied such as math or English. Albert Camus once stated, “A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world. ” According to Benedict’s “A Defense of Moral Relativism,” every culture has to draw a line between what is normal and what is abnormal.
The line between normality and bnormality has to be distinguished in order to understand others in that same culture. For example, noises that people in American culture make. If a girl takes a large, deep, disappointed sigh after climbing out of bed, we would infer that she is just tired or doesn’t want to wake yet. In our culture, we would not find a noise or reaction like that relevant. However, then a boy asked that girl on a date, and she responded with the same big, disappointed sigh as earlier. That boy would then hopefully understand that her disappointed sigh is probably not a yes.
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Some noises nd gestures we make are not relevant to a conversation or any part of communication in a normal daily routine, while that same noise or gesture can be used to portray a feeling or response without even having to use words. For another example, take a cough. A cough is not used to portray a feeling or used for a means of communication. Benedict says that this is why we have to draw a line between normality and abnormality, so that we as a culture can understand simple conversations, what people are trying to communicate, and be able to respond correctly, or not at all.
Benedict states in her argument “In so far as a civilization is well integrated and consistent within itself, it will tend to carry farther and farther, according to its nature, its initial impulse toward a particular type of action, and from the point of view of an other culture those elaborations will include more and more extreme and aberrant traits” (A Defense of Moral Relativism). By this, Benedict is claiming that a culture begins with a basic preference, and the starting point of that culture is completely arbitrary.
Therefore, Benedict forms the conclusion that the istinction between normality and abnormality is culturally relative – not universal, not grounded, only preferenced. Rachels’ argument, “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism” seems to agree with Benedict on the fact that different cultures have different moral codes, therefore their moral codes determine what is morally wrong and what is morally good, or abnormal and normal. However, Rachels believes that disagreement does not entail a lack of objective truth, forcing at least one person in an argument, or a different culture, to be wrong.
Rachels also states that not all ifferences are differences in values. For example, Eskimos place a high value on human life, Just as the American culture does. However, it is common, therefore morally acceptable, for them to abandon a newborn if the family does not have the means or resources to raise it. However, it is not morally acceptable in our culture to abandon a newborn. Hence, Judgment can be esta blisned between the two arguments. Moral relativism is Justified by Benedict’s argument, thus making moral relativism Justified by the Cultural Differences Argument.
Rachels believes that if elativism were true, trans-cultural criticism would in impossible, making moral progress impossible. For example, our culture believed that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote and now they are. Rachels would think that we were once morally wrong and now that we accept women voting, that we are now morally right. He says that this moral progress would be impossible if relativism were true. However, Benedict would argue that our culture thought we were right because we were accepting what we thought was morally true, and that since we now believe ifferently, we Just experienced a change in values.
Rachels also deems that at least one person in an argument is wrong, whereas Benedict believes that whatever the individual or culture believes and accepts is true for them, and one opinion doesn’t have to necessarily be wrong, but Just different because they have different preferences. Since preferences make up each cultures moral code, then yes, moral relativism is Justified by Benedict’s argument, as relativism states that moral claims are true depending on the certain culture’s or individual’s beliefs, or preferences.