Essay on Relativism and Morality (Some Moral Minama)

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Relativism and Morality (Some Moral Minama)
Erin Collier
Soc 120/Ashford University
June 10, 2013

In this writers opinion Lenn Goodman is right, there are certain things that are simply wrong. Seeking to control others through violence and or force is not right. Four areas Goodman touched on in his article, Some Moral Minima were (1) genocide, politically induced famine, and germ warfare; (2) terrorism, hostage taking, and child warriors; (3) slavery, polygamy, and incest; and (4) rape and female genital cutting (Goodman, 2010). All four areas do just that, try to control through violence and or force. In order to be considered relative these acts would have to be “right” by the culture committing the acts, if they cannot be shown to be moral in any culture than issue of relativism is off the table.

Goodman claims “murder is wrong because it destroys a human subject” (Goodman, 2010). Taking a life is wrong – right? Can it be subjective to the situation or relative? What about in taking a life in self-defense? For instance, someone breaks into your home and intends to harm or abduct your child; this is a case where taking a life is relative to the situation. You, at all costs, must protect your family. There are situations where taking is a life is justifiable, genocide, politically induced famine, and germ warfare are not those situations. Goodman asks, “Why is genocide uglier than murder” (Goodman, 2010). Why indeed? Both acts take life away from a human. According to Goodman, “the answer lies in the intent not just the scale of the crime” (Goodman, 2010). Self-defense is about survival and preservation, where “genocide targets individuals as members of a group seeking to destroy a race, a culture, a linguistic or ethnic identity, even a class” (Goodman, 2010). Genocide is a way for one group to exude power and control over others, as is politically induced famine and germ warfare. These acts are not moral acts, these are simply acts of horrific violence meant as means for power. “Terrorism is willful targeting of non-combatants, aiming to intimidate and attract attention”. (Goodman 2010) Again, controlling through violence and force. It could be said that terrorist are trying to preserve and protect their culture and way of life, that they are brave and sacrifice their lives (suicide bombers) so others can live to fight for the cause. Goodman doesn’t agree with that, he says “terrorists explode the values they claim to fight for. Their victims’ blood blurs and blots whatever ends were meant to justify the carnage”. (Goodman2010) Terrorist are manipulative and controlling, Goodman wrote “to the professional, terrorism is a tool of policy, not a cry of despair, It cynically exploits the sanctity of others give to human rights and…