Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on
. Then answer these questions. Unless noted otherwise, the questions are about the article and not about your own beliefs.
Descriptive, Normative, and Metaethical
There are three levels or spheres concerning ethics: descriptive, normative, and metaethical. Descriptive ethics is at the level of merely describing what people do or do not do. Descriptive ethics is most commonly associated with anthropology, although sociology and psychology can also involve describing people’s ethical behavior. Normative ethics (or less redundantly, moral theory) concerns how people ought to behave and, at least in philosophy, why they should behave that way. Theologians and parents often engage in normative ethics. Lastly, metaethics is the study of questions about ethics, rather than about a particular ethical dilemma.
What the author calls “Metaethical Moral Relativism (MMR)” might be more familiar to you as simply “cultural relativism.” It is crucial that you understand the difference between MMR and Descriptive Moral Relativism (DMR). DMR is essentially the claim that different cultures have different views about what is right and what is wrong. MMR says that there is no universal standard; in other words, that the divergent beliefs may be correct.
. A standard objection to MMR is that it seems intuitively wrong that merely flying to another country would make an immoral action moral. Give a response to this objection from the article.
. According to either DMR or MMR, should we be tolerant toward people with different moral values?
. If DMR is true, must MMR also be true? Why or why not?
4. Did this article change your views about relativism? If so, how? If not, why not? (note: while this is an opinion question, you do need to discuss the article).
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