Ethical Theories

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Transcript Ethical Theories

Ethics and Objectivity
• Cultural Relativism: moral values are
relative to one’s culture; there are no
universally held values
• Ethical Absolutism: one set of moral values
applies to all people and cultures
Relative vs. absolute
Subjective vs. objective
Objections to ethical relativism (the belief
that no set of values ought to be applied to all)
• We need not respect all aspects of a culture
• The boundaries of a culture are difficult to set
• The existence of moral differences does not
justify them: “is does not imply ought” (the
naturalistic fallacy)
• Universal moral values are simply interpreted
differently in different cultures
Isn’t ethics different from science because
ethics lacks agreement, has no way to
resolve disputes, and is not objective? No:
• There are wide areas of ethical agreement
• Ethical disputes are resolved through reason
• In contrast to science, ethical values are
“objective” not because they are based on an
independent reality but because they are
based on reliable methods of reasoning that
consider how practices benefit or harm people