Ruth Benedict: Ethics Are Relative Essay


In this paper, I’m likely to discuss the argument that the famous American anthropologist, Ruth Benedict, has put forth with regards to ‘ethical relativism’. Ethical relativism is the theory that retains that morality is relative to the norms and beliefs of one’s culture or society. That may be, whether an action is labeled as right or wrong depends on the ethical norms in the society by which it is practiced.

The same actions may be morally right in a single society yet be morally wrong within. For the ethical relativist, there are no universal ethical standards — standards which can be universally placed on all lenders at all times. The sole moral standards against which usually a society’s practices can be judged will be its own. In the event ethical relativism is correct, there can be no prevalent framework intended for resolving meaning disputes or for getting agreement in ethical concerns among members of different communities. In my opinion, values is widely relative and completely reliant on the societal pressures and surroundings you have been raised with, and it performs an integral part with your conception of ethics and morals.

In ‘Ethics Happen to be Relative’, Ruth Benedict claims morals happen to be culturally described based on precisely what is considered appropriate behavior inside the society. To illustrate her point, Benedict utilizes the examples of homosexuality and homicide, which are considered to many in our society as immoral as well as wrong to some extent. For example , Benedict states homosexuality in historic Greece, was widely recognized and did not have any negative interactions with it.

Benedict also states inside the culture with the Kwakiutl, a culture which has been without speak to to and so has remained uninfluenced by the “standardized worldwide civilization, ” the loss of life of a beloved (no subject if the person has died of incident or organic causes) is recognized as an “insult” which is to be dealt with by committing tough. According to Benedict, each of these examples illustrates how precisely what is considered wrong in one contemporary society is considered ethical in another.

Benedict’s argument is: (1) In the event that what is recognized by society, based on distributed beliefs, since normal behavior varies from culture to tradition, then values would change from culture to culture. (2) Each traditions, based on shared beliefs, makes a decision what is regarded as acceptable and normal habit within their world. (3) Therefore , morality is usually relative to the culture. In the event that Benedict’s debate is true, it would mean that morality exists entirely as a creation of person society’s. As morality can be not an impartial, higher principle outside of societal inclinations, it could be able to be transformed by world.

Therefore , seeing that morality can alter at any time, morality fails to exist in reality apart from on a succinct, pithy level, making morality useless. Why comply with any “moral” action in society after that? Just get most of people in the society to act conversely for the “moral” action also, after which the communicate action can be “normal” and therefore “moral. Subsequently, the question is still, just because an action is “normal, ” would it make the action “moral? ” Benedict claims in Ethics Are Comparable, “We recognize that morality varies in every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. ” One thing she doesn’t end up giving an answer to in her essay is that, just because it might be a behavior, does this produce it right?

There have been times, when I researched in the sky and wondered, ‘ Oh GOD, is this moral? What will the society think of me? ‘ Overall, I believe that the research that Benedict has come up with is quite reasonable and it’s laid out in a way that produces us purpose with ourself to come to a conclusion depending on morality. I make this statement of uniting with Benedict based on your own experience proving the clear thesis of Benedict’s discussion. Last summer season, I had visited Thailand and I learned that the norms in Thailand, happen to be that when a couple of gets committed, the man movements in with the woman and her parents instead of where all over the world it’s over who leaves her property and joins the man in the routine.

Normally as we could say, relative to our societies, that the kid of the house could take care of the parents in their retirement years, whereas in Thailand it’s the daughter of the house that takes care of her parents all throughout her life. These types of incidents made me believe and lead to a conclusion that many culture is based on their own set of rules, and regulations that they prefer to adhere to and are easier adapted to people who follow the same guidelines and regulation of certain ways of leading all their lives.

  • Category: Ethics
  • Words: 828
  • Pages: 3
  • Project Type: Essay