PHL275H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Logical Reasoning, Cultural Relativism, Relativism
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September 14th — Relativism
●At least some moral claims are true, but only relative to particular cultures
●Not merely the view that moral codes vary across cultures. Cultural relativists subscribe
to something deeper → CR is a theory about the nature of moral claims
○At least some moral claims are true, but their truth is relative to particular cultures
■E.g. in culture C, it is morally wrong to X
○At least some moral claims are true, but their truth is not relative to culture / time /
place / etc
■E.g. Whether the people of C believe it is wrong to X is irrelevant to the
question of whether it is wrong to X. The people of C may be mistaken.
○No moral claims are true
■E.g. The people of C are mistaken. Moral claims are never true.
Cultural Relativism Thoughts
●Different societies have different moral codes
●The moral code of a society determines what is right/wrong within that society
●There is no objective standard that can be used to judge one society’s code as better than
●The moral code of our society has no special status
●There is no universal truth in ethics
●It is arrogant to judge the conduct of people in other cultures
●We should be tolerant with respect to the practices of other cultures
○** culture only appears twice in the list, but society appears many more times →
Rachels wafﬂes between two words that mean different things
○**vacillates between universal and objective which ALSO DO NOT MEAN THE
Arguing for Cultural Relativism: The Cultural Differences Argument
●Appeal to facts about different cultures:
○1. Different cultures have different moral codes.
○— — — — — — — —
○2. There is no objective truth in morality.
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