Relativism, Response to peers help


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Hello. Attached you will find the "Response to peers" document" and the chapter reading. In the "response to peers document" you will find the initial discussion instructions. Below that, you will find in red the instructions for the responses. Please read through it thoroughly and ask any questions you may have.

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Initial Discussion Instructions: Explain the basic principles of relativism. What do you believe is the strongest argument against relativism that was presented the readings for the week? Outline the argument presenting the reasons the author gives for thinking that relativism is inadequate. Finally, discuss relativism with your classmates in general. What are some relativistic beliefs you have held? Do you believe that they can be justified or do you plan on reevaluating those beliefs now that you have learned more about relativism? To be very clear, your task here is not to give your opinion on relativism! This assignment asks you to (1) explain what the textbook says relativism is, and then to (2) explain what the textbook has to say about why relativism does not work. This is not a matter of opinion - it's a conceptual problem that you must show you understand! Once you do that (3) your opinions about relativism are needed. This is the assignment below: Be sure to reply to your classmates and instructor with a minimum of 150 words. Try to attempt to take the conversation further by examining their claims or arguments in more depth or responding to the posts that they make to you. Keep the discussion on target and try to analyze things in as much detail as you can. You must utilize the chapter reading and be sure to properly use in text citation as well as reference in accordance to the Ashford Writing Center. Student 1: Explain what the textbook says relativism is? According to our textbook, Relativism should be viewed as there are no universal or general ethical standards; that a person's ethical view is relative to his or her culture, society, tradition, religion, worldview, and even individual values. Moral claims are said to be about something else. The term is used to mean that any ethical claim is a set of beliefs and that any such moral claim is valid, or consistent with, that set of beliefs (Mosser, 2013). Explain what the textbook has to say about why relativism does not work. One problem with relativism is that some acts or traditions seem wrong not just in relation to a culture but merely wrong entirely on their own. Perhaps we are from a culture that views particular society or cultural practices differently; we would then say that, for us, these things are wrong. From the perspective of a culture that does not share our views, perhaps infanticide or slavery—or both—are not wrong or are even right (Mosser, 2013). Relativism promotes tolerance of certain cultural practices that members of Western civilization may think are strange and unethical. Relativism beliefs After reading the material, I believe that relativism is practicing the art of being open-minded and tolerant of others differences and consideration to their beliefs, traditions, cultures, and behaviors. In the military, we make it our mission to respect and consider other countries cultures and beliefs while we operate in their countries. When serving in countries with Muslim faiths, being conscientious of the fact female Airmen may need to wear the proper head covering. We have to articulate that there are ways to acknowledge that what is good for different people can objectively vary without everything being equally good for everybody. Student 2: What is Relativism? In reference to our textbooks, Moser (2013) refers to relativism in this way, " We should recognize that there are no universal or general ethical standards; that a person's ethical views are relative to his or her culture, society, tradition, religion, world view, and even individual values" (sec. 6.2 par.13). Relativism is a philosophical doctrine that has a wide range of one's ideals or beliefs that are based on all moralities are equally true depending on the individual’s beliefs and culture. Why Relativism does not work? The problem with relativism not working is it has no factual external guidelines for right or wrong that is legitimate for everyone involved. According to Moser (2013) he states, "Even though philosophers distinguish between different kinds of relativism, we will generally use the term to mean that any ethical claim is relative to a set of beliefs and that any such ethical claims are true, or consistent with, that set of beliefs. (Sect 6.2, par 12). The problem with this is living in a rapidly changing society with various cultures there are no universal moral absolutes by which the behavior of people can be judged, right or wrong, they based their opinion on their value of morals in their cultures. Relativism belief that I hold. Taking an overall view of relativism, I can see where society has been deeply invaded with relativism. Our economy, our schools, as well as our own homes cannot prosper nor survive in an environment where everyone is right in their own eyes. Our society will and has become weak and fragmented without having a common ground of truth and absolutes to base our mortal on. Instructor: You've done a terrific job here with the refutation of relativism! You're exactly right that relativism can't actually be the correct way to look at what morals amount to because there are some actions that are just wrong, no matter what any particular culture happens to believe. Relativists hold that there are no universal moral truths. If one culture thinks stealing is ok, then it's ok in that culture, and if another culture thinks stealing is not ok, then it's not ok in that culture. In the end of the day that view can't possibly be right because we all do recognize some moral truths that stand firm no matter what culture you're in. For example, it was wrong for Hitler to kill millions and millions of Jewish people. It is wrong to torture babies for fun. The fact that we recognize these kinds of universal moral rules means that relativism can't be right. I would be inclined to think that the idea that slavery is wrong is not actually a relativist view, but rather one of those moral truths that stands firm no matter what culture you're in. This is why it's a considered a violation of international human rights. You are right that some cultures do embrace the slave trade, and that means to them it is not morally wrong. Still, in my own humble opinion, they are mistaken about that. It is wrong - no matter what any culture happens to believe - and this is the point of human rights and the many organizations that work so hard to protect them around the world. There are not a lot of these firm moral truths that stand firm no matter what culture you're in - but I do believe this is one of them! 61 Traditional of Ethics IntroducingTheories Philosophy Federico©Terry Caputo/iStock/Thinkstock Why/ Getty Images You have your way. I have my way. As for “It is the mark of an educated mind the right way, the correct way, and the only to be able to entertain a thought way, it does not exist. without accepting it” —Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra —Aristotle mos81165_06_c06.indd 175 1/6/14 2:33 PM CHAPTER 6 Section 6.1 How Should One Act? Learning Objectives After reading this chapter, students will be able to: 1. Characterize the classical theories of ethics—utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics. 2. Identify some of the problems these theories confront. 3. Describe other metaethical views, such as relativism and egoism. 4. Apply ethical theories to problems that affect both individuals and larger groups, including environmental challenges. What We Will Discover • Philosophers have developed theories to provide support for our claims about right and wrong. • Other theories such as egoism and relativism offer alternatives to traditional theories of ethics. • Ethics has many specific applications to our lives, from the very personal and specific to those that affect everyone in society. 6.1 How Should One Act? E thics, or moral philosophy, investigates how we can evaluate our behavior in terms of right and wrong, good and bad—in other words, how we determine what we should do, what we should not do, and how to tell the difference. After looking at the three classical ethical views that philosophers have presented and some of the problems with these theories, we will explore some alternative approaches. Utilitarianism Suppose you and five of your friends are hanging out one night and decide to order a pizza. You are all equally hungry and decide to order two pizzas, each of which has six slices. Thus, when the pizzas are delivered, it is pretty easy to determine how to divide the pizzas in a way that is the fairest: Everyone gets two slices. It may be that one person wanted a third slice, and someone else may have only wanted one. Yet without knowing anything else, this arrangement, more than any other, will be the most beneficial to the greatest number of people.© Getty Images/Thinkstock Jeremy Bentham is associated with the founding of utilitarianism, which states that given a choice between two acts, the one that creates greater happiness for the greatest number of people should be chosen. This simple example demonstrates the basic notion at the heart of the ethical doctrine known as utilitarianism. Often associated with the philosophers Jeremy Bentham (1748–1822) and John Stuart Mill, utilitarianism offers a very straightforward and direct way to evaluate behavior. When given a choice between two acts, utilitarianism states that mos81165_06_c06.indd 176 1/6/14 2:33 PM Section 6.1 How Should One Act? CHAPTER 6 the act that should be chosen is the one that creates the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people. Philosophers (and economists) often use the term utility to express this quality. Utility is the satisfaction one gets from something. For instance, if you like chocolate ice cream more than vanilla ice cream, we can say that chocolate ice cream has a higher utility for you, relative to vanilla ice cream. In theory, at least, each of us can rank all of our choices according to a scale that indicates our relative preferences. Some philosophers, such as Bentham, even attempted to assign numbers to these preferences. If someone likes chocolate ice cream five times as much as vanilla ice cream, that person would presumably be willing to accept five vanilla ice cream cones as a substitute for one chocolate ice cream cone. It should also be noted that utility is regarded in terms of net utility: The correct moral choice is that which generates the greatest good and also minimizes unhappiness. Read more of John Stuart Mill’s ideas on this topic in his work Utilitarianism in the Chapter Readings section of the Appendix. Because utilitarianism considers an act’s consequences in assessing its morality, utilitarianism is also regarded as a consequentialist theory. The basic idea in consequentialism is to consider the consequences that will result from the choices one confronts: If the consequences of one act produce the greatest net good—or the highest utility—for the greatest number of people, this is the act one should carry out. Many people find this to be a rather obvious ethical viewpoint; clearly if we had decided to give all the pizza slices to just three people and no slices to the other three, this would seem rather unfair. It should also be clear that utilitarianism offers an approach to scenarios other than distributing pizza and ice cream. Imagine Mary really loves to dance, but she does not get to go dancing very often. Mary has three children, with whom she enjoys spending time and who enjoy spending time with her. One night she is given the option of staying home and spending time with her children or going dancing. What should she do? The utilitarian might argue that, on the one hand, the pleasure Mary gets from dancing is greater than staying with her children. Yet on the other hand, her children will receive great pleasure if she does not go dancing. Therefore, the “utility calculation” is that the net happiness of Mary and her three children will be higher if she stays home, even though Mary’s individual happiness might be slightly lower than it would have been if she had chosen to go dancing. Utility is often described in terms of pleasure, which can be problematic for utilitarianism. Imagine someone finds pleasure in playing video games and drinking beer all day long. Given a choice between, say, helping out in a homeless shelter or drinking and playing the newest video game, a person may well choose the latter, which suggests to some that utilitarianism has no way to distinguish between different kinds of pleasures. Presumably, we want our theory to be able to make a distinction between hedonistic and nobler pleasures. Mill saw this as a potential problem and insisted that pleasure should be considered not just in terms of quantity but also quality: that certain kinds of pleasures, or certain ways of satisfying desires, are simply better than others. A pig may be happy rolling around in the mud and eating garbage, but Mill insisted that people who take that approach to pleasure fail to develop their potential as human beings (relative to pigs, at least). According to Mill, it is better to be a dissatisfied Socrates than a satisfied pig. This is not to say that one should always choose something less pleasurable; rather, it is simply an indication that pleasures themselves can, or perhaps should, be distinguished from each other. It is not always easy to say that one pleasure is “superior” to another, and certainly people have long argued about this issue. However, these kinds of examples indicate a problem utilitarianism confronts if we evaluate acts solely in terms of their pleasurable consequences (Mill, 1909). mos81165_06_c06.indd 177 1/6/14 2:33 PM Section 6.1 How Should One Act? CHAPTER 6 Many people find utilitarianism to be an easy and useful approach to making ethical decisions. When distributing goods, services, or even time, it would seem to be a “no-brainer” to choose the option that would satisfy or please as many people as possible, compared to any other available choice. However, philosophers have raised a number of problems in response to utilitarianism, which may make it a less plausible ethical theory than it first appears. Problems With Utilitarianism Utilitarianism has what philosophers call an intuitive appeal: It seems to be relatively obvious, and just plain common sense, to evaluate our actions based on the results those actions produce. If all we know about a situation is that four kids in a sandbox have one toy, the best option would be for the children to share that toy, even if each child is quite sure he or she would get the most pleasure from playing with it alone. However, many philosophers have objected to utilitarianism, and for a number of reasons. As we have seen, distinguishing different kinds of pleasures from each other can be difficult. Does utilitarianism have any way to address the situation of a person who gets pleasure from staring at the wall or doing something else that most people would find quite unpleasant (something often called masochism)? Mill (1863) suggests there are “higher” or “more refined” pleasures and that they should be preferred, but who is to say which is a “higher” pleasure? Is reading poetry somehow better than watching soap operas? What if someone gains pleasure by sleeping all the time or hitting his thumb over and over with a hammer? More significant objections to utilitarianism have been posed on the basis of calculating the outcome, or consequences, of a choice. Suppose you are on a cruise ship that catches fire; you and 19 others are lucky enough to survive on a lifeboat. There is enough water to last for a week or more, but you have no food and do not know whether you will be rescued. Everyone is aware of how grim the future looks; as the boat drifts, everyone gets hungrier. It becomes apparent that everyone is going to die unless your group finds food. The utilitarian in the group poses the following options: All 20 people die, or 19 people live if one person is killed and eaten! To justify his position, he cites historical examples of similar cases in which cannibalism helped the majority survive. However, while this scenario may appear to result in the greatest good for the greatest number, do we really want an ethical theory that not only allows cannibalism, but actually endorses it as the fairest and most ethical decision? Few of us are likely to experience a situation this extreme, but we may find ourselves in situations where the basic utilitarian calculation actually leads to results that are very unfair and unjust. This is particularly threatening anytime individuals find themselves in a minority, whether because of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any of the other ways in which society categorizes people. For example, suppose a local grade school must decide if it should use taxpayer money to build ramps to make the building accessible to students in wheelchairs. This tax will likely decrease the pleasure of each taxpayer and may only be used by a few individuals throughout the year. In this way it would result in a net utility that would favor a decision not to build the ramps. Would you consider this a fair outcome? mos81165_06_c06.indd 178 1/6/14 2:33 PM Section 6.1 How Should One Act? CHAPTER 6 Great Ideas: The Trolley Problem A very famous challenge to our ethical intuitions, originated by Philippa Foot, is easy to describe but more problematic to solve. In Foot’s 1967 essay “The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect,” she posed the following scenario known as the trolley problem: Imagine a runaway trolley hurtling toward five workers on the track. The driver must choose between staying the course, which would result in the death of the five workers, or divert the trolley to a spur where just one worker on the track would be killed. Most would say that diverting the trolley to save five lives while killing only one would be the better of the two options. Now imagine a similar scenario: What if a doctor could save the lives of five people who needed organ donations by killing one patient and distributing his organs? Would that be considered a moral act? If not, why would it be moral to kill the one track worker, but not the one patient? There are many variations on this basic scenario, which has generated a great deal of debate and discussion. Reflection Questions: With this in mind, consider the following questions: 1. Try to posit a situation where it would seem moral to kill (or allow to die) one person in order to save five people’s lives. 2. What is the relevant moral difference—if there is one—between killing someone and allowing someone to die? 3. Does it make a difference if one could save twenty people by sacrificing one person’s life? One hundred? One thousand? At what point might our views change due to the relationship between the one person sacrificed and the number of people saved? Tyranny of the Majority Dating as far back as Plato, political philosophers have often cited the tyranny of the majority, which is when the interests of the majority are placed above the interests of the minority, and to their detriment. American history is littered with such stories, whether the minority groups be African Americans, Native Americans, Jews, homosexuals, or many others. In the original, Protestant-dominated colonies, for example, Roman Catholics were not allowed to vote or hold public office. Despite the obvious injustice, this would seem to fit the utilitarian calculation, because Catholics were a minority at that time. This kind of calculation has been used to justify a wide range of policies that seem wrong, from slavery to refusing to sell houses in certain neighborhoods to ethnic and racial minorities. Interestingly, women have al ...
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Response to Peers on Relativism
Student One
Well, the student defines relativism as a general view of ethical and moral societies. I agree with
the student’s assertions that a person’s moral view is often based on the existing environment,
culture, religion and even the traditions of the society. In essence, cultural relativism refers to the
belief that an action is always right if one’s culture approves of it. Such an argument is based on
the diversity of moral judgments in different cultures hence people’s opinions and arguments
about right or wrong differ from one...

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