What are the implications of Benedict’s claim that morality is simply whatever a culture deems normal behavior? Is this a satisfactory equation? Can you apply it to the institution of slavery or the Nazi policy of anti-Semitism?
Write a minimum 5 pages reflection critical analysis’ essay entitled “ Is morality relative or are there objective moral truths?” This essay should explore the ethical, scientific, historic and socio-cultural dimensions of the readings. You have to read two readings (links you will find below the assignment description), one written by Ruth Benedict, “The Case for Moral Relativism” and a second written by Louis P. Pojman entitled “The Case Against Moral Relativism.”
What position do you hold regarding the essay’s question? Do you agree or disagree with the positions stated in the two readings? In order to prove your thesis make reference to the required readings from Unit 1 and 2, to the Instructor’s Lecture, as well as to two readings included in this assignment. In the Instructor’s Lecture you have an additional bibliography.
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Refer to Essay’s Rubrics in order to see the grading system.
In your essay you should:
- Use both readings as well as the rest of the required readings included in the Learning Modules.
- Give answers to the following questions:
- Regarding Benedict’s paper:
- Is Benedict correct in saying that our culture is “but one entry in a long series of possible adjustments”? What are the implications of this statement?
- Can we separate the descriptive (or fact-stating) aspect of anthropological study from the prescriptive (evaluative) aspect of evaluating cultures? Are there some independent criteria by which we can say that some cultures are better than others? Can you think how this project might begin?
- What are the implications of Benedict’s claim that morality is simply whatever a culture deems normal behavior? Is this a satisfactory equation? Can you apply it to the institution of slavery or the Nazi policy of anti-Semitism?
- What is the significance of Benedict’s statement, “The very eyes with which we see the problem are conditioned by the long traditional habits of our own society”? Can we apply the conceptual relativism embodied in this statement to her own position? (taken form Pojman L.P., Vaughn L., The Moral Life, New York 2007, p. 165.)
b. Regarding Pojman’s paper:
- Is Pojman correct in thinking most American students tend to be moral relativists? If he is, why is this? What is the attraction of relativism? If he’s not correct, explain your answer.
- Explain the difference between subjective ethical relativism and conventionalism.
- Sometimes people argue that since there are no universal moral truths, each culture’s morality is as good as every other, so we ought not to interfere in its practices. Assess this argument.
- Does moral relativism have a bad effect on society? Reread the tape-recorded conversation between serial murderer Ted Bundy and one of his victims (pages 171-172) in which Bundy attempts to justify the murder of his victim on the basis of the idea that all moral values are subjective. Analyze Bundy’s discussion. How would the relativist respond to Bundy’s claim that relativism justifies rape and murder? What do you think? Why? (taken form Pojman L.P., Vaughn L., The Moral Life, New York 2007, pp. 190-191.)
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