We are taught the difference between what is right and what is wrong at a young age by our parents or guardians. What is classified as right or wrong can differ between cultures, races, ethnic identities, and by social class. We all have a sense of what is morally right and the relativity of it. There are specific traits and beliefs that are distinctive to every culture, race, and social classes, due mostly impart to the differences we have in what we consider to be morally right.
The idea of universal morals shows that through our cultural differences there is still a connection to the moral beliefs that we share, and shows that cultures are more alike than admit. There are some beliefs and customs that are considered morally justified in some cultures but in another, they are considered to be morally wrong. In his article Goodman gives solid examples of how something that is considered to be morally right in one cultural, would be wrong in another.
Some of the topics that Goodman touches on are, genocide, hostage taking, slavery, polygamy, rape and female genital cutting (2010). Goodman argues that there are certain acts that are without a doubt considered to be wrong. While I do agree with his theory that acts such as incest, slavery, and rape (just to name a few) are wrong, there are factors that should be considered before an act is considered morally just or unjust. Relativism is one of the ways that certain acts can be viewed be other cultures without completely ruling the acts as right or wrong. Relativism is the idea that one’s beliefs and values are understood in terms of one’s society, culture, or even one’s own individual values (Mosser, 2010).
Therefore, by relativism acts like polygamy, female castration, terrorism and infanticide are example of acts that are considered wrong for most Americans but in the cultures that practice these acts they see nothing wrong with them. Relativism and Morality “Many people find relativism extremely attractive. After all, determining what is right and wrong is frequently very difficult.
It may also be difficult to defend—rather than just assert—that a given culture’s (usually one’s own) values are the correct ones, and that those values that are different are somehow wrong. Relativism also seems to decrease the kinds of conflicts that arise over such issues” (Mosser, 2010). Mosser puts into a clear prospective of how relativism and morality can work together to better understand a culture outside of our own. I do not think that there are universal moral requirements that every culture, race, and even social class can agree on.
I believe that taking another human beings life is wrong, yet I still support our troops and all that they do to keep our country safe. Goodman states, all living beings make claims to life and murder is wrong because it destroys a life, yet warfare is not always wrong because it may be necessary to protect life. (2010). Relativism does provide a spectrum to view the world and cultural issues through, there are still problems that can arise. “Difficulties arise for relativism, when we consider the fact that few people come from a single, specifiable “culture. There may be general notions that guide one’s society, but one may also consider oneself part of many different groups, each of which can inform one’s moral values. Relativism seems fairly clear, until we start trying to decide what provides our moral sense. You have a given country, language, gender, religion or lack of religion, race, ethnicity, class, and so on, but does only one of these determine your values” (Mosser, 2010)? Another issue that arises with relativism is that is an easy way out of dealing with ethical dilemmas and accepting practices that we feel are wrong.
In addition, it may be difficult for a society to see and understand that it might be doing something that is immoral if questions of morality cannot be raised within one’s society. Relativism and Morality While the argument brought forth in Goodman’s article are all true and he makes very valid points, there are some beliefs and customs that are considered morally justified in some cultures but in another, they are considered to be morally wrong. Relativisms aims to show that no one specific culture is right or wrong for doing things the way that they do and that is the mode that I follow.
From my own cultural stand point there are certain acts that I would be against if they we to be implemented on American society but I understand the culture who practice those acts and cannot fault those people that have been raise in that way of life. As for my personal opinion as to whether we will get to the point of universal moral requirements I do not think we will all be on one accord anytime soon, for the simple fact that each culture, race, social class, and ethnicity have their own way of dealing with specific moral issues.