Why normative ethical relativism have some features showing its

strengths and others demonstrating its weaknesses.
Ethical theories play a major role in the determination what actions can
be considered morally right or morally wrong. Normative ethical
relativism is an ethical theory that is based on the notion that moral
principles are not universal and rightness and wrongness of moral
actions vary from one society to another and from one person to another
(Piroozvand 593). The term “relativism” is used to mean that two
people can adopt two opposing views about a given moral issue without
either of them being mistaken for what they believe to be morally right.
In addition, the theory defends the concept of relativism on the grounds
that the existence of a single set of principles to govern morals of the
entire world that consist of people of different cultural and religious
backgrounds is practically impossible. Some people argue for while
others argue against the basic principles and assumptions of the
normative ethical theory. This paper will provide the important features
of the two sides of the argument and demonstrate why the theory has
these features.
Three claims that make the normative ethical relativism attractive
There are three major claims used by supporters of normative relativism.
First, relativists believe that ethics depend on the viewpoints of
individuals (Piroozvand 595). This means that each individual has a
special viewpoint regarding ethical or moral issues, which cannot be
countered by the views of others. Secondly, relativists hold that
differences in culture generate varying ethical systems. This means that
culture plays the major role of determining what is right or wrong, but
not the ethics. This implies that cultural system determines the
individual’s moral views, which cannot be overturned by a different
cultural system. Third, ethical situations are so diverse that they
cannot be subjected to one judgment. This means that the judgment of
rightness or wrongness of the different actions depends on the situation
in which they are performed.
Why the three claims follow from ethical relativism
The first claim is based on the notion that moral rightness or wrongness
of actions depends on individuals, but not on the society. Normative
relativism rejects the believe that actions can be judged to be good or
bad on the basis of ethical values and principles set by the society
(Piroozvand 595). This is because ethical beliefs as well as principles
are formed by individuals by creating ideas (such as the struggle for
survival) and use them in decision making. This means that ethical
values and principles are equal to the number of people and none of them
is superior to the other. Based on this argument, ethical principles
upheld by individuals cannot be challenged using a framework that is
different from what each person believes since individual are origin of
those principles and nothing else. This is an appropriate feature of an
ethical theory because it enhances tolerance in case of disputes on
moral aspects of culture.
The second feature of normative relativism is based on fact that there
are no universal values because of the existence of different ethical
systems. Normative relativists hold that traditional practices set by
ancestors are reliable and cannot be judged to be wrong by experience
since their correct implication is ingrained in the customary in the
customary approaches (Piroozvand 595). This means that actions or
beliefs that are considered to be ethical by individuals of a given
community are not subject to examination or testing since customs do not
have an independent origin. Consequently, the existence of the existence
of different cultures leads to non-existence of universal, comprehensive
and general ethical facts. This means that diverse ethical systems
cannot be judged on the basis of other systems since they all have the
authenticity and right to the same level. The differences held by the
normative cultural relativists favor tolerance, minimal intervention and
non-interference with the affairs of other individuals (Wong 1).
The third claim of normative relativism is that ethical situations are
so different such that they cannot be judged using the same principles
or rules of morality. This concept has similar implications with
situational ethics, which holds that ethical decisions should be based
on flexible guidelines instead of absolute principles. Relativism
determines how situational variability will facilitate the utilization
of moral rules in a manner that is sensitive to different circumstances
(Langlands 101. In addition, normative relativists hold that individuals
should consider the most loving situation when deciding on ethical
dilemmas. For example, a normative relativist who respects situational
variability would consider if abortion is the most loving outcome in
deciding whether it is an ethical action. This means that the
circumstance that necessitated abortion is significant to a normative
Claims that present the normative relativism theory in a poor light
The basic assumptions of normative ethical relativism attract a lot of
criticism where researchers are scholars present their objections in
ways that reduce the significance of the theory. The first counter claim
stems from the basic assumption of normative relativism that, which
holds that there are no universal values. According to Piroozvand (595)
there exist some common values in different cultures. Secondly, the
existence of different conditions, as held by the normative relativists,
is not a sufficient proof of the relative nature of ethics. Third, a
claim that cultural differences are an impediment of the common ethical
system is countered by descriptive relativism. The three objections
raised against the basic assumptions of normative relativism makes it
unlikely to be true.
Why the three claims make the normative ethical relativism unlikely to
be true
Extreme normative ethical relativists claim that there exists not a
single stable principle of ethics in different communities (Piroozvand
596). However, critics show that there exists some stable series of
ethical principles that guide people of all cultural backgrounds in
determining what is right and what is wrong. For example, the ethical
principles of fulfillment of promises and honesty are universal and they
are applied by people of all cultural and social backgrounds. This means
that normative ethical relativists fail to consider the fact that there
are some basic contrasts on good and bad actions between all people.
Secondly, the basic assumption of the normative ethical relativism,
which holds that actions are judged to be good or bad depending on
situational, makes the theory unlikely to be promising. This is because
the rightness or wrongness of actions cannot be absolutely determined by
judgment. Judgment plays the role of directing the individuals to do or
to avoid certain actions (Piroozvand 596). This means that judgment that
results from changes in circumstances has no direct relationship with
the basic principles and values of ethics. In essence, a change in
judgment does not alter the goodness or badness of certain ethical
values, but ethical circumstances make actions to be considered as right
in some special conditions and wrong in the ordinary conditions.
Third, the normative assumption that cultural differences impends the
establishment of common ethical systems is untrue and raises serious
criticism against this theory. This is because the assessment of
practices and values of different people is not based solely on their
cultural backgrounds (Famakinwa 30). This means that some values used to
assess peoples beliefs and values are independent of their cultural and
moral backgrounds. In addition, the normative ethical relativism ignores
the possibility of cultural borrowing that result from cross-cultural
adoption of values, making it an unreasonable perspective. This implies
that the values cultural background should not be used as the absolute
lens in the determination of the rightness of the goodness of actions.
The normative ethical relativism perspective has features that enhance
its strength and aspects that reduce its plausibility. There are three
major claims that make the perspective of normative ethical relativism
attractive, but they raise a considerable amount of criticisms that
makes the theory appear unlikely to be true. The most important claims
that enhance the strength of the normative ethical relativism include
the assumption that assumption that the rightness or wrongness of
actions is based on individuals values and beliefs as opposed to values
held by the society, non-existence of universal values, and the
existence of different ethical situations that reduce the probability
for existence of universal principles of judging between the wrong and
the right. The counter claims of this [perspective include the existence
of some common values across different cultures, change in ethical
situations does not affect the basic principles of ethics, and the
existence of different cultural backgrounds does not necessarily impede
the establishment of universal ethical values.
Works cited
Famakinwa, J. “Revisiting Kwame Gyekye’s critique of normative
cultural relativism”. A Journal of the Philosophical Association 4.1
(2012): 25-41. Print.
Langlands, R. “Roman exempla and situation ethics: Valerius Maximus
and Cicero de Officiis”. Journal of Roman Studies 101 (2011): 100-122.
Piroozvand, S. and Nassiri, M. “Moral relativism under criticism”.
Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy Studies
3.4 (2012): 593-599. Print.
Wong, B. “Cultural relativism”. Institutional Issues Involving
Ethics and Justice 1 (2000): 1-6. Print.