Some people claim that moral judgments or standards are merely the

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Some people claim that moral judgments or standards are merely the expressions of the feelings, attitudes, or commitments of a society or culture—a position called cultural relativism. Other people claim that moral judgments or standards are merely the expressions of the feelings, attitudes, or commitments of individuals—a position called subjectivism. Both positions deny that there is any objective or reasonable basis for moral judgments or standards; in other words, there is no objective moral truth independent of the beliefs of individuals or cultures, which are fundamentally only conventional and arbitrary and could very well be quite different. (This is sometimes expressed as: “If he/she/they believe that it’s right to do that kind of thing (adultery, abortion, polygamy, or whatever), then I guess it’s right for him/her/them.”) Explain, in your own words, these positions; and critically evaluate them.

In thinking about these positions, should one distinguish between different kinds of moral issues, say, between the morality or immorality of one’s sexual conduct on the one hand, and the morality or immorality of racial or ethnic prejudice or discrimination on the other hand? What about moral issues involving tolerance, respect for others, etc. Is the claim that we ought to respect other persons (which is clearly a moral position) also merely subjective and arbitrary? Why or why not?

What are your arguments in support of your position(s) on these issues?



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