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Any Moral Relativists in the House?
#71
RE: Any Moral Relativists in the House?
Cultural relativism is the position that any moral fact or falsehood, every moral utterance, refers to culture. It's right there on the tin? Perhaps they're not the set of facts and falsehoods you might prefer, or boghossian might prefer...but to say the position says nothing on the matter is not only untrue, it's absurd on it's face.
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#72
RE: Any Moral Relativists in the House?
(June 17, 2021 at 9:32 pm)vulcanlogician Wrote:
(June 15, 2021 at 11:38 pm)The Grand Nudger Wrote: A cultural relativist can make any criticism of any moral system that a realist might, and, like a realist, believe that a person can be morally incorrect.  Relativism is a position on the referent of those facts, just as any other moral position.  That being said, suppose we found a relativist who gave us that advice.  It's good advice, isn't it?  To be mindful of the judgements we make.  A realist would have the same problems with a judgement specifically dependent on an individual pov that a cultural relativist would.  Relativists and realists agree, together, that subjectivism is wrong.

It depends on what you mean by "subjectivism." Because there is a relativist theory "individual relativism" (sometimes called "subjectivism") and it's not quite clear if you meant the theory subjectivism or subjectivism in a broader sense.

I think is is good advice to be mindful of the judgments we make. A moral realist can make that determination: "it is good to be mindful of my own judgments" based on reason and axioms. James Rachels tackled that very issue in his essay about cultural relativism. He analyzed the practice of infanticide in Eskimo culture.

Quote:Consider again the Eskimos, who often kill perfectly normal infants, especially
girls. We do not approve of such things; a parent who killed a baby in our society
would be locked up. Thus there appears to be a great difference in the values of
our two cultures. But suppose we ask why the Eskimos do this. The explanation is
not that they have less affection for their children or less respect for human life.
An Eskimo family will always protect its babies if conditions permit. But they
live in a harsh environment, where food is in short supply. A fundamental
postulate of Eskimos thought is: “Life is hard, and the margin of safety small.” A
family may want to nourish its babies but be unable to do so.

...Moreover, the Eskimos are a nomadic people—unable to farm, they must
move about in search of food. Infants must be carried, and a mother can carry
only one baby in her parka as she travels and goes about her outdoor work. Other
family members help whenever they can.

Infant girls are more readily disposed of because, first, in this society the males
are the primary food providers—they are the hunters, according to the traditional
division of labor—and it is obviously important to maintain a sufficient number of
food providers. But there is an important second reason as well. Because the
hunters suffer a high casualty rate, the adult men who die prematurely far
outnumber the women who die early. Thus if male and female infants survived in
equal numbers, the female adult population would greatly outnumber the male
adult population. Examining the available statistics, one writer concluded that
“were it not for female infanticide…there would be approximately one-and-a-half
times as many females in the average Eskimo local group as there are food
producing males.”


So among the Eskimos, infanticide does not signal a fundamentally different
attitude toward children. Instead, it is a recognition that drastic measures are
sometimes needed to ensure the family’s survival.
Even then, however, killing the
baby is not the first option considered. Adoption is common; childless couples are
especially happy to take a more fertile couple’s “surplus.” Killing is only the last
resort. I emphasize this in order to show that the raw data of the anthropologists
can be misleading; it can make the differences in values between cultures appear
greater than they are. The Eskimos’ values are not all that different from our
values. It is only that life forces upon them choices that we do not have to make.
https://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/...chels1.pdf

In the end, I think the realist (and the nihilist) are just as capable of factoring in differences in culture as well as any relativist. I think Rachels' analysis of Eskimo culture (seen through a realist's lens) demonstrates this. What makes cultural relativism attractive in the first place is the realist assertion that we ought to be understanding and careful with our judgments. Ironically, those who embrace this particular value, use this value to attack the idea of valuation. It seems like there is a contradiction in there.

Maybe cultural relativism as moral theory needs revision. Since it could be argued that "There is no half-way house called “moral relativism,” in which we continue to use normative vocabulary with the stipulation that it is to be understood as relativized to particular moral codes" (Boghossian), then perhaps it is more accurate to see "relativism" as a kind of cognitivist nihilism... in the same vein as error theory. Just as the error theorist says: "No moral fact can be true," the relativist says "No moral fact can be true, except in relation to a cultural code." That's basically what the theory says only put in a more nihilistic manner.
Yikes someone is still using the term Eskimo
“The sun from far gives life. But get close to it and it burns anything down to ashes”

[Image: flag-ukraine_1f1fa-1f1e6.png]  Heart [Image: canada-google.png]        

 “No matter what men think, abortion is a fact of life. Women have always had them; they always have and they always will. Are they going to have good ones or bad ones? Will the good ones be reserved for the rich, while the poor women go to quacks?”
–SHIRLEY CHISHOLM


      
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#73
RE: Any Moral Relativists in the House?
(June 21, 2021 at 9:05 am)Helios Wrote:
(June 17, 2021 at 9:32 pm)vulcanlogician Wrote: It depends on what you mean by "subjectivism." Because there is a relativist theory "individual relativism" (sometimes called "subjectivism") and it's not quite clear if you meant the theory subjectivism or subjectivism in a broader sense.

I think is is good advice to be mindful of the judgments we make. A moral realist can make that determination: "it is good to be mindful of my own judgments" based on reason and axioms. James Rachels tackled that very issue in his essay about cultural relativism. He analyzed the practice of infanticide in Eskimo culture.

https://rintintin.colorado.edu/~vancecd/...chels1.pdf

In the end, I think the realist (and the nihilist) are just as capable of factoring in differences in culture as well as any relativist. I think Rachels' analysis of Eskimo culture (seen through a realist's lens) demonstrates this. What makes cultural relativism attractive in the first place is the realist assertion that we ought to be understanding and careful with our judgments. Ironically, those who embrace this particular value, use this value to attack the idea of valuation. It seems like there is a contradiction in there.

Maybe cultural relativism as moral theory needs revision. Since it could be argued that "There is no half-way house called “moral relativism,” in which we continue to use normative vocabulary with the stipulation that it is to be understood as relativized to particular moral codes" (Boghossian), then perhaps it is more accurate to see "relativism" as a kind of cognitivist nihilism... in the same vein as error theory. Just as the error theorist says: "No moral fact can be true," the relativist says "No moral fact can be true, except in relation to a cultural code." That's basically what the theory says only put in a more nihilistic manner.
Yikes someone is still using the term Eskimo

It's an older essay... late 90s I think. I didn't even know the term was offensive to the Inuit and Yupik peoples until you pointed it out. (I just looked it up.)
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