Metaethics - Free Essay in Philosophy

Published: 2017-11-21
Metaethics - Free Essay in Philosophy
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy Ethics
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 956 words
8 min read

Central Meta-Ethical Positions of Objectivism, Cultural Relativism and Subjective Relativism

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The wide study of ethics majorly concentrates on moral principles said to govern an individual or a group’s behavior. A key focus on meta-ethics further reveals the essence of analytic philosophy that focuses on the exploration of the status, foundations as well as the scope of properties, words and moral values. Therefore, meta-ethics largely addresses morality itself. On the other hand, ethical relativism is a theory supporting the idea that morality is relative to cultural norms. Based on this description, the discussion will focus on meta-ethical positions related to cultural relativism, objectivism and subjective relativism. Regardless of cultural criticism, every community carries different practices proved to be morally right by custodians depending on the societal pillars of construction.

Ethical philosophy

Meta-ethical relativism holds that there are no universal or objective norms and human beings may never comprehend objective values. Based on this meta-ethical position on objectivism, values are considered to be beliefs, feelings, opinions and practices attached to individuals and cultures as well (MacKinnon and Fiala 31). The implication of this nature reasoning points out the idea that values largely depend on what societies or individuals do. Apparently, objectivism supports the idea of upholding the source and nature of moral principles. The same applies to moral foundations that describe a fully civilized society (Sober 56). However, supporting the objective position in the society may have its advantages and disadvantage. The idea of no objective wrong or right in the society has led to the realization of new capabilities. Mushrooming talents, such as dancing, are largely based on objectivism. In addition, objectivism gives every individual the societal freedom to practice what favors one's passion. On the other hand, meta-ethical position on objectivism has its disadvantage of lack of criticism in the society.

Apart from objectivism, meta-ethical arguments support the idea that ethical judgments as well as beliefs are expressions of the considerable moral outlook combined with the individual’s attitudes. Based on this, this meta-ethical position establishes the concept of subjective relativism or subjectivism (MacKinnon and Fiala 32). Instead of being objective, personal arguments are subjective in a way that makes individuals account for their own perceptions based on personalized histories. The key advantage with this kind of meta-ethical position revolves around the idea of making individuals account for their judgments. Besides, any judgment should be based on something such as histories, facts or personal experience. However, it is disadvantageous to consider subjectivism in the contemporary society. Basing judgments on histories may only table lies, myths and misconceptions, which may never bring out the credibility of the existing situation. For example, justification of wars in the past is absolutely wrong even if some communities benefited from it.

Philosophy of ethics

Lastly, cultural relativism holds that, in most cases, ethical values change from one society to another and the fundamental basis for judgments significantly lies behind social and cultural views. For any person to decide and act in the right way, he or she is expected to consider the norms of the society. However, it is still argued that no societal views are better than others, which means that every society is right in its own way. Moreover, no individualized actions can be approved if cultural norms are not brought out. The key advantage with this meta-ethical position revolves around emergency of conservatives, who can only act based on their social background. There is nothing wrong with being a conservative given the fact that they sound to be moral figures in different communities. However, cultural relativism hampers creativity and rationality (MacKinnon and Fiala 32). The argument is based on the fact that individuals are only allowed to think and reason along cultural norms. Despite restrictions placed forth by cultural norms, this idea does not hold in the modern society where diversity is key in making the world one global village.

The positions discussed above are further reflected in most societal practices. Studies carried out in Kenya points out the Maasai Community, which is heavily bonded to its cultural norms. In Maasai, a man can have sex with another man’s wife and this is only allowed if the man puts a spear at the doorstep. The indication of a spear at the doorstep reflects on the fact that the entire territory is secured and no person is allowed to enter the house until the man is done. The practice is allowed and men have been sleeping with other men’s wives, in Maasai Community, claiming that the society allows (Whiting and Whiting 191). Apparently, cultural relativism allows the practice and supports it based on the societal norms. However, the same argument does not sound perfect with subjectivism. There is no judgment and if there is, then the judgment is based on nothing as far as individualized histories are concerned. Nevertheless, having sex with another man’s wife can either be wrong or right as suggested by objectivism.

It is true that every community has its own practices. The discussion has considered different meta-ethical positions on objectivism, cultural relativism and subjectivism. Furthermore, the Maasai community in Kenya serves as one better example of cultural relativism with the same argument picked by objectivism. However, this does not work well with subjective relativism. Therefore, every community needs to be respected as much as criticism may downplay this fact.

Work Cited

Prentice Hall. Whiting, John WM, and Beatrice B. Whiting. "Aloofness and intimacy of husbands and wives." Ethos 3.2 (1975): 183-207.

Sober, E. (2001). Core questions in philosophy: A text with readings. Upper Saddle River, N.J:

MacKinnon, Barbara, and Andrew Fiala. Ethics: Theory and contemporary issues. Nelson Education, 2014.

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