Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Explaining the concept of “ethical relativism”. What is it’s ever increasing impact on the world?

Ethic relativism leaves every culture to it’s own devices when deciding what is the proper code of conduct. Ethics dictates to us what is right and wrong, fueling our decision making processes. Ethic relativism means that no one culture’s ethics are superior to another’s, and forbids people from passing judgment on a culture’s ethics which are dissimilar from their own.

Ethic relativism could be a great asset to intercultural communication. If the simple concept of empathizing with other peoples ethics was widely practiced, global miscommunications could be avoided. This concept teaches us that we can agree to disagree and still coexist. I agree with ethic relativism to an extent, however living in a culturally diverse nation, I can also see the need for some ethic universalism.

This first example that came to my mind was the controversial Prop 8 decision in California banning same-sex marriage. There has been a tremendous backlash from the Gay community onto the Mormon Church because of their advertisements denouncing Gay marriage. In this case, ethic relativism was not practiced because the government handed over the power to the citizens of California to decide over one groups rights. Should the citizens be faulted because they voted according to their own ethics? Ethics is the system we all use to make decisions, so why would this instance be an exception? Many religious people believe gay marriage is sac-religious. The Qur’an teaches Muslims that we cannot force others to come to Islam, and also that we must obey the laws of our land, as long as they do not go against the laws God has written for us in the Holy Qur’an. I think many religious people believe there is a thin line between respecting other people’s lifestyles and condoning those lifestyles. This is why I believe the Gay community’s backlash in this instance was misdirected.

Anyone who advertised either for or against Prop 8 were simply enacting their American right to openly express their point of view. I think the Gay community’s outrage would have been better directed at the government who allowed the decision to be openly voted on, therefore allowing peoples cultures and ethics dictate marital rites for homosexuals. As American citizens, we all agree to live somewhat in a universal ethic system which is laid out by our constitution. Perhaps that is where Prop 8 should have remained- in the judicial system to be decided upon based on our constitution.

-Judge Not!

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