EMP Ch 2
2.1 Different Cultures Have Different Moral Codes
• Darius King of Persia: Callatains ate the bodies of their dead
fathers and the Greeks burned their fathers. Both viewed the
actions of the other as atrocious
• Eskimos: men often had more than one wife, share wives with
guests as a sign of hospitality, women free to break marriage
agreements, infanticide was common practice, elderly left to die.
• Concepts of right and wrong are different from culture to culture
2.2 Cultural Relativism
• To say that a custom is “correct” or “incorrect” would imply that
we can judge that custom by some independent standard of right
and wrong. No such standard exists.
• Some argue that what is “right” is because it is tradition carried
down by ancestors.
• Cultural relativism challenges the objectivity and universality of
o Different societies have different moral codes
Some values are shared by all cultures
Underlying differences may be due to external
factors vs different values
o Moral codes of a society determine what is right within that
is stoning to death of a Nigerian woman who had sex
out of wedlock right
lashes for girl gang raped in Saudi since she was
alone with someone other than her husband?
o There is no objective standard to be used to judge one
societies moral code as superior to another’s
Do policies and practice promote or hinder
The UDHR can be used as a authoritative standard
for human rights since countries signed up for it
o The moral code of our society has no special status
o It is ignorant of us to judge other cultures, we should be
tolerant of them
Human societies have done terrible things and it is a
mark of society that we can look at those things and
put them in the past • But what if the norms of a society favour intolerance?
2.3 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
• This is a false logic, the conclusion does not follow from the
premises. This argument is invalid. A thinks David Bowe is a guy,
B thinks David Bowe is a girl, therefore David Bowe is neither???
2.4 What follows from Cultural Relativism?
Following from the belief that there