A2 KA3 Cultures Make Different Judgments On What Is Right And What Is Wrong So There Can Be No Moral Truth Essay

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The claim "cultures make different judgements about what is right and what is wrong and so there can be no moral truth" is based on non-realist theories, which can be divided into relativism, error theory and moral non-cognitivism. The claim is making two statements, 1) cultures make different judgements and 2) there can be no moral truth. According to the relativist, moral actions, beliefs and conventions are relatable to its culture and convictions; justifiable in that certain tradition which can only be comprehended as a moral truth in that specific culture and religion yet it is not absolute or universal. However, different cultures make different judgements about what is right and what is wrong, creating a disagreement with what is believed to be the absolute moral truth. An example of a relative moral truth would be 'sexual intercourse before marriage in Islam is forbidden', this would be the moral truth that is relative to a Muslim person's religion and culture, however, another person may say that in his/her culture 'sexual intercourse before marriage is allowed' which makes another moral truth that is relative to another culture. Hence, how do we know which belief is right or wrong and how do we judge these 'truths' when we don't agree with one another? Ultimately, this means that no moral or ethical system can be considered the best or worst and no particular moral or ethical position can actually be considered “right” or “wrong" as right and wrong differs from one culture to another disabling one to be unbiased when judging certain practises and actions. Even though, relativism only accepts the fact that different cultures make different judgements, it fails to solve the conflict that arises from different opinions and beliefs.
The relativist philosopher David Wong divides moral relativism into two varieties. Firstly, descriptive relativism which is the denial of any single moral code obtaining universal validity and moral truth being relative to factors that are culturally and historically contingent. For example, the Inuit tribe committed geronticide because that was proceeded to be a just, moral custom that may have only been relative and acceptable in their culture without universal validity. Secondly, normative moral relativism, which endorses how one ought to act towards those who accept values and beliefs that is different from one's own and stating that it is wrong to judge other people's values and morals and make them change to one's own values, as their values are as valid as our own. However, descriptive relativism does not answer why and how it is moral to take one's life and it disables moral progress to happen, because according to a relativist we shall not judge others' moral practices and conventions or act upon our disagreement with one another. Similarly, normative moral relativism defies one to judge abhorrent practices as they accept the differing customs and practices of different cultures, however, Wong contradicts his position within relativism by stating that a normative moral relativist may intervene in extreme cases (e.g. human sacrifice). If, according to normative moral relativist we shall not intervene to enforce values of our own as our right may not be the same for others, then why would one think that one has the right to decide when another culture's customs hit extremity? Furthermore, the acceptance or acknowledgement of other cultures and their relative difference does not prove that moral truth actually exists, it only states that there are more than one moral truth and we should accept all these varying 'moral truths'.
J.L.Mackie "argument from relativity" agrees with Wong's normative moral relativism. He states that morals are best understood from a relative aspect, so rather than a culture being right and others wrong, he argues that each culture receives their morals from their different ways of life and that there have been different moral codes across different…