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Ethical Relativism.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Joseph Boyle

Ethical Relativism all moral judgment are equally good or bad Issues emerging relativity of moral beliefs and practices • how do you explain the relativity of values? • one way: you can never make judgments about a group other than your own • taking an extreme subjectivist view • the standard universal response is that we need to have room for criticism Mackie’s argument from relativity • what good is there for us to have universal ethics if no one knows them, the best way to describe ethics is that it is a reaction • generally speaking we have general principles • the best way to account for the diversity of values is to claim that ethics are subjective Nagel’s argument: disagrees, section 9 on 269 starting with first full paragraph to the top of 270 • you cannot know anything • whatever the epistemological differences are, it is in a different category than what is good and bad • even if there is not an objective property of good like Moore says, we can still be objective about values (removing ourselves from ourselves) Rachels on Relativism • how great is the moral disagreement that undeniably exists? are there common values/moral standards? • demolish these arguments as not sound • there is actually less disagreement than people think • interest of survival is a common human interest • staying alive and good health is a group commitment • Hobbes says that this is the only common interest between humans, but it does involve an interest of human life and refrain from killing • there is a lot of room between values (human interest) and moral system, which is why we may have the same values or similar ones, but they have been executed into different moral systems Idea of the Good • Plato and Aristotle: objective • Hume and Hobbes: subjective • Hume: Hedonism, what is good is pleasurable • Hobbes: the good is what we want • Aristotle says that what is good for us is not necessarily pleasurable, but will help us lead a good, moral life Perfectionism and Moral Virtue- Aristotle Background • Aristotle holds that the human good as something distict from what peole happen to desire. He defends this in Book 1 • objective view: human flourishing • he argues that what we call “good” is what fulfills its function well and properly. A good tool o
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