Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chapter IV
“Diversity and Relativism”
Ven. But Buntenh
Chapter Outline:
1.  Overview
  1. Chapter Objectives
  2. Diversity and Relativism
  3. Ethical Conventionalism
  4. Ethical Pluralism
  5. Conceptual Relativism
  6. Multiculturalism
  7. Disabilities and Diversity
  8. Discussion Session and Q&A
We first need to aware of moral diversity and relativism. We should understand that members of different cultures often have very different beliefs about right and wrong and often act quite differently on their beliefs.
We are trying to understand the relative truth of multicultural ethics and to study the moral issues about race, ethnicity, nationalism, gender, disability, and economic. It can also refer to the study of all moral issues with attention to their implications within different cultures.
In this chapter we will examine the central notions of Diversity and Ethical Relativism that seem to follow from them.
Chapter Objectives
In this chapter, we aim at studying the variety of cultures and understand their values through different perspectives. By the completion of the chapter we will be able to:
  • Explain and describe the variety from culture to culture;
  • Distinguish between Natural Ethics & Conventional Ethics;
  • Explore more understanding Ethical Pluralism and Conceptual Relativism;
  • Understand multicultural perspectives in Ethics;
  • Discuss Disabilities and Diversity
Diversity and Relativism
      The term “Diversity” originates from Diverse, it means cultural different differences from society to society.  In ethical perspectives, we will focus on cultural diversity.  Cultural diversity has dimensions within and across culture.
      Cultural diversity:  the spectrum of differences that exists among groups of people with definable and unique cultural backgrounds.
Ethical Relativism:
      The claim that there is no objective moral standard of right and wrong, and that moral values are relative to a person’s cultural or individual background, or to a certain situation
      All moral principles are justified by virtue of their acceptance by an individual agent. Ethical relativism is the claim that there is no moral principle which is universally applicable
Ethical Conventionalism
  • Ethical conventionalism reduces moral values to the conventions of groups-to their custom, laws, and socially approved habits.
  • All moral principles are justified by virtue of their cultural acceptance.
Ethical conventionalism was defended by many anthropologists and other social scientists during the twentieth century. Their defense centered around of four primary arguments that appeal to group-authority, sheer-diversity, human survival, and tolerance.
Group-Authority Argument
  • Societies, as well as many sub-group within societies, are structured by authority. One argument for ethical conventionalism is the authority of the group expressed in its customs determines what is right.
  • The argument is this: customs of groups express the authority of groups; authority is what is legitimate within the group; therefore, the customs of a group authoritatively express what is right or justified for members of the group to do.
  • Authority is a form of power legitimated by the group; as an expression of the group’s solidarity and sovereignty. Respect for that autonomy is a cross-cultural value that is not reducible to customs. Of course, authority takes many forms, and some societies are substantially structured by authority relationship.

Sheer-Diversity Argument
  • The sheer diversity is so great as to make implausible any search for common values:
  1. Objectively justified values that ought to be accepted in all societies, as well as
  2. Values that as a matter of fact are shared cross-culturally
Here the argument which is not following its conclusion:
  1. Different societies have vastly different moral beliefs.
  2. Therefore, whatever, a society believes to be right is right(for members of that society)
  • .Equally important, some recent anthropology has drawn attention to greater areas of the shared basic values than first appeared. That should not surprise us.
Survival Argument
      Survival argument is an appeal would be more like the view of the ethical egoist, who reduces morality to self-interest, not the ethical relativist who reduces it to social customs.
      To survive, it must become integrated and cohesive. These integrated patterns bind together the group in ways that enable it to survive and prosper.
      In common values, the survival of all societies depends on their embracing at least minimal understanding of three classes of values: 1) mutual support, loyalty, and reciprocity, 2) constraints on violence, deceit, and betrayal, and 3) fairness and procedural justice.
Tolerance Argument
      Ethical conventionalism seems to express tolerance and respect for cultures. Respect for other cultures is vitally important in the increasingly multicultural, global environment in which we live today.
      It is to avoid ethnocentrism: the assumption that one’s own is superior to all others.
      There are two difficulties with this tolerance argument, however. On the one hand, insofar as it appeals to respect for persons, it actually refutes ethical conventionalism.
Ethical Pluralism
      The notion that groups should be allowed and even encouraged to hold on to what gives them their unique identities while maintaining their membership in the larger social framework.
      It does not advocate separatism but promote diversity - not a melting pot but a salad bowl concept-unity with uniqueness.
      Ethical pluralism is the view that alternative and conflicting moral perspectives are sometimes morally justified, but it retains a conviction that many moral values are objectively defensible and that some customs and conduct are unacceptable morally. Ethical pluralism accepts and tolerates multiple conceptions of the good life-within limits- and it acknowledges that those view are morally relevant in deciding how we should act toward others people. The spirit of pluralism is captured in the phrase, “Let a thousand flowers bloom.”
Multiple Goods and Emphases
      There are many virtues, ideals, and principles that it is permissible to emphasize, either in a given culture or an individual life. In addition, there is no systematic way to rank these values and to establish that one of them should always take precedence, although in particular situations it may be clear which should have priority.
      Fundamental values like justice and benevolence (or at least nonmaleficence) are universally applicable, in the sense that they apply in all cultures and virtually all kinds of situations.
      Should see the different interpretations among morally reasonable persons of good will.
      When we are talking about “Multiculturalism”, we refer to the recognition of broad dimensions of individual identity, including “race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation , gender, age, disability, class status, education, religious/spiritual orientation, and other cultural dimensions.”
      Multiculturalism refers to a cluster of outlooks and movements occurring during the 1980s-1990s and continuing today. Two very different strands in these outlooks need to be distinguished, and they are reflected in the strikingly different definitions of multiculturalism.
      The definition of multiculturalism here refers to an outlook that endorses various forms of subjectivism and relativism.
      On the other hand, multiculturalism is more often defined as a moral ideal, or set of ideals, about embracing diversity.
      Defined in this way, multiculturalism is one of the most important moral movements of our time, whether in education, business, or everyday life.
      Multiculturalism is about understanding ourselves and others who are different from us. It involves a valuing of other cultures, not in the sense of approving of all aspects of those cultures, but of attempting to see how a given culture can express value to its own members.

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