Moral Objectivism: There are universal moral truths.
Moral Subjectivism: There are only subjective moral truths which stand true for some people at some
Cultural Relativism Ethical Relativism
Different societies have different moral No objective universal moral truths
Moral code of a society defines their way
No objective standard
Moral codes has no special status
Adopt attitude of tolerance
**Ethical Relativism does NOT follow from Cultural relativism. Ethical relativism can be false even if
cultural relativism is true.
Problem of Cultural Relativism:
Argument is invalid, therefore unsound.
1. Concerns what people believe
2. Concerns what is(what is not) the case
Comment: Why should this be a problem if it concern what people believe? That’s the basis of argument.
I don’t get it.
If Ethical Relativism is true:
1. We cannot morally assess others.
2. We can judge our acts through the standards of our own society. I.e. a serial killer may be
morally wrong to murder in one society but he can just go to a society where killing is ok and
then, he won’t be doing anything morally wrong anymore.
3. We can’t critically morally evaluate our own societies.
Why do we think cultural relativism is true?
Cultural relativism is a claim about the difference in values between societies. And anthropology claims
that different societies have different cultures.
BUT difference in custom does not suggest as difference in values. Reasons to doubt Cultural Relativism:
All cultures have some values in common.
The protection of the young
Prohibition on murder
Comment: This is not necessary true. Even aggression is ok in some remote cultures in the Amazon and
Africa. At an earlier time, in some cultures in Western Asia and Northern Africa, families would bury their
child if it was a daughter.
Challenges of Moral Objectivism
1. Psychological Egoism:
Humans are always selfish
Challenges motivation claim
2. Ethical Egoism:
Humans are not obligated to do anything that is not their own interests.
Argument of Psychological Egoism:
1. When agents act voluntarily, they do what they most want to do
2. It’s selfish to do what the most want to do.
3. Therefore, agents act selfishly (voluntarily).
1. First premises are false.
It is false that everything we do voluntarily I what we most want to do. I.e. we mi