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Ethical Relativism Vs Moral Realism Essay

1074 words - 5 pages

(DK80b1): “Of all things the measure is man, of the things that are, that [or "how"] they are, and of things that are not, that [or "how"] they are not.” Protagoras brand of ethical relativism suggested that morality is subjective to the relative context, such as culture, within a family, or even autonomous authority. In the Plato’s Theaetetus Socrates and Theaetetus have a discussion that centers primarily around the epistemology of Protagoras and Heraclitus that knowledge is only perceptions. Socrates puts forth his objections and alternatives. His alternatives likewise center around his theory of the forms and the objectivity of this theory. If knowledge is perceptions to Protagoras, then you can see how morality would be subjective. If I say it is wrong to eat a horse, and someone from Europe says that it is not wrong to eat a horse, then the wrongness of that statement is relative to the culture. Taken further, if one person perceives x as wrong and another person perceives x as right the truth value is relative to an autonomous authority. The distinction in this the ethical nihilism of Gorgias is that there is still belief that these statements have normative value that is truth value.
Plato’s point of view is different as it is quite objective. There are moral truths and they are true or false independently of an agent. His viewpoint is based largely on his theory of the forms. He believes that there are two worlds one is the real world and the other is our world. Within the real world resides eternalness, knowledge, truth and forms. In our world there is the idea of becoming, senses, opinion, and objects. Everything in our world is subject to the real world. If x is not in the real world there would be no version of x in our world. The x in the real world is perfect and eternal it is pure x. In the same way Justice, what Plato considers as an all important virtue, would be pure justice and eternal in the real world, it would be what we aspire to in our world. Any version of justice in our world would not be wholly justice. If it is unjust for one person it is unjust for all people, in all places, at all times. Knowledge for Plato lay outside of our world and we could only get closer to truth through philosophical contemplation. Because of this Plato’s main concern was analyzing the different virtues to get closer to the forms of the virtues. If x is wrong, what does wrong truly mean, which virtues are associated with wrong and how does one go about becoming truly virtuous.
These two different ideas both have strengths and weakness. The strength of Ethical relativism is that it provides a framework that accounts for the wide disagreement of morality between people. People have never been able to agree on what is morally right and wrong and this varies greatly between cultures and individuals within that culture. Ethical relativism retains the variety of different viewpoints and treats them all the same. It...

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