The Cultural Differences Argument: An analysis

The Cultural Differences Argument: An analysis

© 2010 by Jensen DG. Mañebog

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THE THEORY called Cultural Relativism, which claims that there is no objective universal truth in morality, puts forward an argument which Philosophy professor James Rachels named as the Cultural Differences Argument:
          Different cultures have different moral codes.
          Therefore, there is no objective “truth” in morality. Right and wrong are only matters of opinion, and opinions vary from culture to culture ...


20 Facts about Ethics

THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS depict the development in the study of morality (Ethics) throughout history. Focused on atheistic ethics and God-based morality, some of these propositions mention of various philosophers and other thinkers who advocate either of the mentioned moral stands.
... 15. Charles Darwin propelled the abandonment of God and revelation by attempting to show that God was not even necessary in the creation of living things.
16. Friederich Nietzsche aimed to highlight the ethical implications of Darwinism; his "superman" concept transformed man into the maker of his own destiny, and Man became the measure of all things. As his "madman" said, “God is dead!” ...


Notes in Ethics: Theist's Explanation of Moral Obligation's Binding Force


1. GENERALLY, ALL MEN HAVE the moral experience of feeling obligated.

2. The “binding force” and “overriding character” of the moral obligation are attributed to God who is man’s creator and thus the cause of man’s moral dimension.  


Notes in Ethics: Secularist's Explanation of Some Ethical Facts

THE FOLLOWING are the summary and analysis of the ways secularists explain some principles in Ethics such as the existence of moral law and the binding force of moral obligation.

1. ‘Sense of moral obligation is just the effect of social conditioning’

·  Richard Robinson: “The original conscience… is a set of taboos and compulsions, acquired from…associates …” (An Atheist’s Values. 1964, p. 110).

·  “The demands of conscience are due tosociety because society expresses disapproval of certain actions.”


·  It is the intellect which can be molded or (socially) conditioned.

·  The “sense of moral obligation” cannot be explained sufficiently by social conditioning—for there are innumerable situations where a person, although feeling a desire from society to adopt a certain course, feels the moral obligation to assume a course altogether different.


Notes in Ethics: 7 Characteristics of a Good Moral Theory



1. A good ethical theory is able to satisfactorily explain why people experience a sense of moral obligation.

2. It is able to account for the moral obligations’ “binding force” and “overriding character.”

3. The worldview endorsed by a good moral theory is capable of accounting for the moral accountability in ethics. (For, otherwise, morality would just be like promulgating a strict state law but without real sanction or punishment for the offenders. In such a condition, there would be no essential difference between following and transgressing the law.)


Notes in Ethics: 6 Features of Morality

1. People experience a sense of moral obligation and accountability

·  One cannot doubt successfully a phenomenon of his own existence—namely, his moral experience.

·  Even secularists like Kai Nielsen recommend that one “ought”to act or follow some rules, policies, practices, or principles. [Kai Nielsen, Ethics Without God. London: Pemberton, 1973, p. 82.]

·  Even atheist Richard Dawkins declares that there are “moral instruction[s] on how we ought to behave.” [Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. London: Bantam Press, 2006, p.347.]


The Theistic Ethics and the cut-flower thesis


“... The attempts to found a morality apart from religion are like the attempts of children who, wishing to transplant a flower that pleases them, pluck it from the roots that seem to them unpleasing and superfluous, and stick it rootless into the ground. Without religion there can be no real, sincere morality, just as without roots there can be no real flower... ”


Non-theists' moral foundations: An analysis

“... Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that the atoms inside my skull happen for physical or chemical reasons to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a bye-product, the sensation I call thought. But if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It is like upsetting a milk-jug and hoping that the way the splash arranges itself will give you a map of London... "


Subjectivism: Another challenge in Ethics



"...  Ethical Subjectivism is the idea that our moral opinions are based on our feelings, and nothing more. In this view, there is no such thing as “objective” right or wrong. It is a fact that some people are homosexual and some are heterosexual; but it is not a fact that one is good and the other bad. So when someone says that homosexuality is wrong, he is, according to the theory, not stating a fact about homosexuality but merely saying something about his feelings toward it ..."


Cultural Relativism: A challenge in Ethics

"... the ancient Persian King Darius was once intrigued by the diversity of customs and cultures he came across in his journeys. He had noticed, for example, that a tribe of Indians called Callatians customarily ate the corpse of their fathers. The Greeks, on the other hand, performed cremation as they considered the funeral pyre as the natural and appropriate means to dispose of the deceased ..."




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