Essay on Universalism vs. Relativism

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Katie Potter PHIL 213 Ethical Universalism vs. Ethical Relativism Ethical universalism and ethical relativism are two types of meta-ethical views, meaning the two theories attempt to understand the reason behind ethical properties, attitudes, boundaries and judgements. Ethical universalism can be viewed as an ideal world, while ethical relativism explains a more realistic perspective on why different cultures can view the same actions differently. The two delve more into the essential meaning of a theory rather than just simply labeling actions as right or wrong. Ethical universalism is the theory that there is a universal ethic that applies to all people, no matter the individual's history, preferences, traits or…show more content…
From a relativist's perspective, moral values are only applicable within certain cultures and societies. Something that may be viewed as morally correct in the United States could be unethical in Zimbabwe and vice versa. For example, in Somalia, it is acceptable, or moral for a family to kill a female family member if she is raped, while here in the United States the murder of a family member is viewed as extremely unethical and cruel. A more simplistic example of this is the fact that it is not unethical in American culture to consume beef, while in India it is viewed as unethical. The reason for this is because of the diverse cultures and their own set of moral standards. This theory states that there are many values and ideas that can be considered morally correct while disagreeing with one another. However, there are also few downsides to this theory. Relativism may lead to immorality because of opposing perspectives and cultures. Just because one culture views something as good or bad, right or wrong, does not mean this is true. This theory is based off of personal preferences and values, which can lead to conflict and clashing of values. Relativism also does a poor job of establishing an absolute set of ethics, and does not take into consideration that the values and norms of a society can change over time. Because of the opposite
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