TheCorrelation between Ethical Relativism and Ethical Declines
Ethicalchoices tend to influence people’s decisions and commitments. Thus,ethical deterioration usually weakens a society’s values and norms,which leads to increased detrimental behaviors. For example, adecline in ethical values resultsin increased rate of recidivism, corruption, aggression, dishonesty,integrity issues, and cheating. Conversely, ethical relativism positsthat morality is comparative to the principles and norms of anindividual’s culture (Esikot133). This implies that the morality (wrong and right of an act) ishooked on the moral norms of the community where it is practiced. Thenotion illustrates that different assemblies of individuals have adifferent perception or ethical standards for assessing actions aswrong or right. Moreover, different people might have the samefoundational moral value, but seem to apply the idealsin aradically different circumstance(Banathy 186). In this regards, it is imperative to note that somemorally accepted standardsin a particular society may be ethically wrong in another society.The paper critically examines ethical declines in the present worldand its implications especially in relation to ethical relativism.
Primarily,cultures tend to differ significantly when it comes to their ethicalpractices, and some scholars argue that patterns of culture mainlydepend on the practices that have been constantly repeated such thatthey have become a norm in those societies. A range of practices havebeen mentioned by anthropologists and some of the practices aremorally accepted in certain societies but completely abhorred inothers, including infanticide, bigamy, chauvinism, bigotry, andtorture (Dzuranin, Shortridge, and Smith 103 Blincoe 480). Thereforedifferences in ethical practices have been one of the main reasonswhy there are significant levels of ethical declines in the currentworld. These differences have made most scholars to question andanalyze if there is anything like universal ethical principles or ifmorality is simply an issue ‘cultural taste’ of a society. Moralpractices have differed significantly across cultures and this hasraised a crucial point in ethics, which is the concept of ethicalrelativism.
Onthe other hand, to effectively understand the source and implicationof ethical declines, it is critical for an individual to understandthe tenets of ethical relativism. This is a prescriptive perceptionthat different societies have different moral principles forevaluating the morality of an action. However, the beliefs are onlytrue to the respective societies and do not usually result incases of a basic ethical value (Guha 11). Thus, the notion does notdescribe the manner in which individuals should behave, but rathersuggests the manner in which they ought to behave since an absolutemoral principle has never existed (Esikot134). The theory of ethical relativism argues that the concept ofmorality tends to be relative to a number of normsthat are practiced in a certain culture. This implies that therightness or wrongness of an action is dependent on the ethics, moralnorms and values of the region where is it practiced. An ethicalrelativist believes that moral and ethical standards cannot beuniversal, and standards cannot be applied universally to everyindividual on a daily basis (Esikot133). Therefore, the only sets of moral standards that may be used tojudge the practices of a society are those of the specific society.For ethical relativism to be held as true, then it implies that it isimpossible to have a common framework that can be used to solve moraland ethical disputes. It will also be difficult to come to a commonground on ethical issues affecting people from different societies.
Similarly,a positive correlation exists between ethical degenerations andethical relativism. Most theorists associate ethical declines toethical relativism by noting that ethical deteriorations are usuallyhigh in societies with weak standards (Dzuranin et al 105). Althoughthe ethical practices of communities may differ, the basic ethicalvalues supporting the practices do not, which means that ethicalrelativism is wrong. Therefore, societies can agree on various basicethical principles but differ significantly in the way they apply thesame principals. The consequences and outcomes of ethical relativismarethat some of the beliefs and practices that a society adheres to maybe considered as culturally relative and other are not (Guha 8). Thisis the reason why in the current world there are still cases oftorture, slavery, infanticide, genocide, political subjugation, andso on. When people are unable to agree on some fundamentalprinciples, there are increased chances that rivalry may occur andmay lead to violence.
Althoughethical decay has become a prevalent issue in the contemporary world,it has become more prevalent in societies where a common context forresolving ethical disputes does not exist. However, some of thedecays do not develop from a lack of a common framework, but developfrom the lack of interest by the society, for example, ethical issuesregarding torture, subjugation, and prejudice. It is important tonote that these issues are governed by universal ethical values, butpeople judge them wrongly because of the numerous diversities ordifferences that exist among societies. This means that therelativity of a practice does not make all practices relative(Blincoe 480). Furthermore, ethical relativism has allowed societiesto decay, for example, in issues such as decency and behavior whereyoung people no longer respects the older generation. Obeyinguniversal moral principles allow individuals to be cognizant of otherpeople’s feelings, as well as, develop a common context in thesocieties through which people can live in harmony. To avoid thenegative outcomes of ethical declines and ethical relativism, peoplehave been urged to obey the moral, cultural, societal, andprofessional ethics. Social attitudes and relations that aresatisfactory have often been overemphasized by leaders to ensure thatthe society lives in harmony. There are behavioral patterns thatpeople believe will result insocial harmony, fairness and justices, and cooperative living(Banathy 188). However, when these ethics are disobeyed, chances arethat there will be social turmoil. For instance, when law enforcementagencies are unable to control or eliminate violence and otherillegal activities, there will be increased cases of anarchy, attacksand revenge attacks.
Conclusively,this paper has comprehensively analyzed moral degenerations in thepresent world and the impact of ethical relativism. Ethicaldeterioration has been rampant due to the fact that some practicesconsidered as moral and acceptable in one society are ostracized inanother. Some of these actions include infanticide, polygamy,and chauvinism. This is related to ethical relativism theory whichargues that morality depends on the kinds of norms that are practicedin one’s culture. Ethical relativism,therefore,believes that there are no universal ethical principles that can beused to judge the wrongness or rightness of an action. However,people have been urged to pursue aspects of moral, cultural,societal, and professional ethics. Such practices are believed thatthey will bring social harmony and cohesiveness. Following auniversally accepted value will also reduce cases of violence andanarchy.
Banathy,Bela H. DesigningSocial Systems in a Changing World.Boston, MA: Springer US, 2013.
Blincoe,Adam. "The Cambridge Companion to Virtue Ethics, written byDaniel C. Russell." Journalof Moral Philosophy 13.4(2016): 479-482.
Dzuranin,Ann C., Rebecca Toppe Shortridge, and Pamela A. Smith. "Buildingethical leaders: A way to integrate and assess ethics education."Journalof Business Ethics 115.1(2013): 101-114.
Esikot,Idorenyin Francis. Globalization versus Relativism: The Imperative ofa Universal Ethics.Journal of Politics and LawVol. 5, No. 4 (2012). Pp. 129-135
Guha,Debashis. Practicaland Professional Ethics.New Delhi: Concept Pub. Co, 2007.