Its logic for one not to pass moral judgments other people’s behavior because you do not understand the beliefs and the practices they uphold regarding their culture. It is relatively right to give an opinion to people in your own culture. Respecting one another’s culture is subject to all human society. It is because the history and culture of society are highly valued especially when passing moral judgments in society. A specific society has no specific moral appraisal of its own that can be used to determine or judge another society. Most judgments passed are relative to the rules, moral values, values that society upholds. Moral values, values, and opinions cannot objectively have a universal binding set of moral principles that that goes against the beliefs and practices of the society. If global rules are used, they can create misunderstanding between societies due to the passage of moral judgments. When moral norms, values, and opinions are subjective, they promote tolerance and respect between societies. It can also encourage individuals to learn and understand other people’s culture to promote harmony and co-existence.
Multicultural diversity has simplified the perception of different cultures in the world. People have learned to accept and respect each other’s culture. For instance, in some cultures, moral values vary and what seems right in your lifestyle can be wrong in another culture. The validity of moral principles relies on the cultural and subjective acceptance in society (Louis, Pojman, and Lewis 2011), for a moral value to be considered a universal moral appraisal it has to be accepted by different societies. While some moral values, values, and judgments are relative, there are universal moral truths that cut across all humanity at all times.
According to Herodotus, that culture is king, and it should be respected. When Darius took the kingdom, he went ahead to request the Greek who was standing near him to accept and eat the remains of their fathers when they died in exchange for money. The Greek response shock Darius, because they refused to state that no amount of money was comparable to such an act. The culture of a particular group of people is dominant and robust in determining if something is right or wrong. Culture can’t be bought since it owned by the people of that specific society. It is their pride and also because they inherited it from their forefathers and they are all mandated to protect it at all times. Moral values, values, and judgments are relative to the culture of the people, and despite the existence of some universal moral truths, culture is always the determinant.
Ruth Benedict anthropologists set forth the theory of moral relativism in which the moral principles are entirely based on the shared beliefs and practices of different societal cultures (Brogaard 2012). The various existing societal systems in society determine how ethical principles are conceptualized. Different societies have different methods in which people uphold and follow. Moral values do vary in different societies as well. What is considered moral or immoral in the various cultures depends on the choice made by societal systems (Louis, Pojman, and Lewis 2011). She argues that moral relativeness is the correct view of morality. Her study on different and common cultural elements found in different cultures. Culture is robust since it determines the way people live, behave and co-exist with other people from other cultural backgrounds.
The behavior of many humans has been nurtured by the cultural beliefs and practices the community upholds (Brogaard 2012). For instance, if you find a society that institutionalizes homosexuality, then there is no doubt there will be homosexuals in that specific society. Benedict’s quest to ascertain that moral relativism is the correct view of morality in society made her come up with supporting evidence collected from different societies. The many people he talked to, cultures of varying society she researched, etc. indicated that culture was the cornerstone in the way people lived and co-existed with one another at society level and also within a multicultural society. Issues like marriage, ownership of property are among the many culturally based elements.
Henrik Ibsen explains the power that is held by a small majority, who are the people living in a small Norwegian town. The town is visited by visitors from all over the world to come to bath, in which people come to seek healing powers. An area is a frequent place for visitors, and Dr. Stockman is the one who oversees the baths condition. As the man-in-charge of the baths, he realized the water used in the baths was contaminated with sewing water causing harm to visitors. When he confronted his brother Peter who is the mayor about the subject, he refuses to help out saying that the water isn’t the way his brother imagines. His brother is concerned about the funds the visitors pay to the local county council and how the benefits. Peter claims he works for the interest of the public and the bath can’t be closed down.
When Dr. Stockman goes ahead to address the public of the issue of the baths, they do not accept or want to understand anything concerning the truth about the baths. The way of life of the town people makes them not take the changes Dr. Stockman is proposing to the small town. The public does not trust what the doctor is saying and without the backup of his brother Peter whom the public trusts so much, he pursue will not prevail. When the public is poisoned and have a common belief on an issue, then it’s hard for them to believe what Dr. Stock is saying. The people in that town most of them depend on the tourists visiting the small town, and this makes them resist the change. The enemy of the people is the belief that the majority holds that the water is pure and it doesn’t affect its visitors. The people are concerned about the gains they get from the baths rather than the safety of the visitors.
Jeremy Bentham’s principle of utility checks on whether an action will cause pain or pleasure (Arntzenius 2014). If an action brings happiness to human beings, then it is termed as moral while the acts or practices that cause pain are immoral. The principle of utility approves or disapproves an action which is rendered to an extent it causes harm or happiness to the party in question. The benefit, pleasure, goodness of the action it brings to the party is the determinant. The result justifies the cause of action. Pain is measured by the intensity and duration in which it persists. Bentham’s principle of utility portrays pleasure and pain as the main determinants to determine an action undertaken to the party in question. It also emphasizes more on the prospective benefits, comfort and less emphasis on the pain it causes to the party. The utility classifies the parties by the degree of pleasure or pain created, the circumstances under which the action had to be undertaken, extend the action effects and finally, the chance that the action will bring happiness or pain to the party in question.
Kai Nielsen argues that it is the result or consequences that determine an action is morally right or wrong. The moral worthiness of an act is determined by how the party in question will benefit from the action done (Arntzenius 2014). He goes ahead to inform parties to own the consequences arising from the action undertaken. Kai defends Bentham’s principle of utility in the way it defines an action is whether right or wrong. In defense of the principle, Kai states the action is done to maximize satisfaction and minimize dissatisfaction. The action should also be humane and humanitarian to the greatest extent of all humanity.
- Arntzenius, Frank. ‘Utilitarianism, decision theory and eternity.’ Philosophical Perspectives 28.1 (2014): 31-58.
- Brogaard, Berit. ‘Moral relativism and moral expressivism.’ The Southern Journal of Philosophy 50.4 (2012): 538-556.
- Louis, Pojman, and Lewis Vaughn Pojman. The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature. 2011.