Sample Ethics Paper Assignment on Ethics and Culture

Given that different cultures have different moral codes, one major question which has been the center of debates in contemporary times encompasses the issue of how far should our tolerance of other cultures’ beliefs can extend. Particularly, it is imperative to first note that different regions encompass different cultural affiliations. Each region feels that its cultural affiliation is justifiable and hence there is always the notion that one’s culture is the best hence leading to the criminalization of other cultures. Essentially, the major culture which is juxtaposed by other cultures is the western culture. In this case, the western culture entails the norms and practices which are deemed as normal in regions such as Europe and Northern America. Some of these norms encompass encouraging capitalism, individualism, democracy and respect to individuals’’ human rights. When compared to other cultures such as those practiced in Middle East countries which are predominantly Islam, it is ascertained that these culture are very different from one another. This paper will explore on choice one which explores on the aspect of ethical relativism theory which stipulates that whatever a culture believes is morally acceptable IS morally acceptable for that culture.

Ethical relativism is the theory that asserts that morality is relative with respect to the norms of one’s culture. As such, the rightness or wrongness of an action depends on the norms of a particular society or community in which the action is being practiced. Hence, a particular action might be morally right for one community yet be deemed as absolute abomination in another community. This theory sounds good insofar as it endorses ‘tolerance’ among different cultures based on mutual understanding. However, philosopher James Rachels in his article, “Why Morality Is Not Relative,” argues that ethical relativism is fundamentally flawed in several ways such as the particular case whereby the extremist group, Boko Haram believes that it is morally acceptable to kidnap and enslave school girls whereas American culture does not believe that it is morally acceptable to kidnap and enslave school girls (Pojman and Lewis Vaughn 34).

In this case, the first aspect to look into are whether both beliefs are morally acceptable. When checking on this aspect, it is imperative to review the two points of view and the two entities with the differing perceptions. First, America consists the ideologies held by the western world which advocate for observation and respect of other people’s human rights (Triandis 910). Moreover, America, or the U.S can be viewed as a sovereign society with a concrete culture which it observes (Black 117). On the other hand, Boko Haram is neither a sovereign society nor is it a religious entity. As a matter of fact, Boko Haram is an illegal terrorist organization based on west and central regions of Africa. As such, the notions held by Boko Haram are based on terrorist agenda and hence do not reflect the ideologies of a particular region or particular region and hence are likely to disregard human rights. In this case, Boko Haram as a terrorist organization cannot be viewed to have morally acceptable beliefs which can be universally accepted. Rather, in the contemporary world, the advocating for observation of every individual’s human rights is regarded in most regions of the earth. As such, it is concluded that in this case, Boko Haram’s beliefs are morally unacceptable even to the Islamic faith which Boko Haram pledges its adherence. On the other hand, America’s belief with respect to this case is morally acceptable since it is based on respect of individual’s right to freedom (Pojman and Lewis Vaughn 35).

With respect to the same case, James Rachels would argue that Boko Haram’s beliefs are NOT morally acceptable. In this case, James Rachel would take the approach that in as much as there is cultural disagreement over the issue of molarity, it is imperative to consider the universal truth in a given scenario. In this case, James Rachel would point on whether it is truthful that the kidnapping of any person by another goes against the kidnapped person’s right to freedom. Moreover, he would point out that the truth behind the fact that any form of kidnapping is usually an illegal activity even in regions where Boko Haram propagates its kidnapping activities and hence conclude that Boko Haram’s beliefs are culturally unacceptable and that the beliefs of the Americans are the ones which can be culturally acceptable since they are backed by universal truths (Pojman and Lewis Vaughn 34).

Martin Luther King, Jr on the other hand would be against the beliefs held by Boko Haram in the given case. Martin would argue that we are all equal and that nobody has the right to take the fundamental right of an individual which is the right to freedom. Moreover, King would draw from the assertion that any form of kidnapping is a criminal offense and cannot be deemed to be morally acceptable to any culture (Triandis 918). For example, the girls which Boko Haram kidnaps are from democratic regions such as Nigeria whereby kidnapping is a criminal offense. Hence, for a group to claim that kidnapping is morally acceptable yet the action of kidnapping is deemed as a criminal offense in the region whereby it is being propagated, then King would term this perception as a disillusionment. All in all, king,an American would assert that the American’s belief is morally acceptable but the one held by Boko Haram is morally unacceptable (Black 118).

Lastly, from my point of view and after carrying out philosophical review of the case, I can assert that ethical relativism is fundamentally flawed in several ways. In as much as the theory assert that morality is relative to the norms of one’s culture, it should be noted the contemporary society is interconnected especially with the way globalization has reduced the world into a global village. First, in as much as different people have different perceptions, I understand that there are universal truths such as the fact that murder is a criminal offence no matter who commits it. In this case, any justification of a murder by a particular group based on cultural affiliations would be regarded as disillusioned perception. Secondly, I can assert that an action which is deemed as an illegal activity in a given country cannot be justified as being morally acceptable for a particular group of people especially in situations whereby the action goes against the rights of the majority of the people. Moreover, from my point of view, Boko Haram is a terrorist organization hence it can be categorized as an illegal organization just like any other criminal organization. In this case, the selfish beliefs of such an organization can only be termed as being morally unacceptable (Triandis 924).





Works Cited

Black, Donald. “On the Origin of Morality.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 7.1-2 (2000): 107-119. Accessed March 30 2018.

Triandis, Harry C. “Individualism‐Collectivism and Personality.” Journal of personality 69.6 (2001): 907-924. Accessed March 30 2018.

Pojman, Louis P., and Lewis Vaughn. The Moral Life. Oxford University Press, 2009. Text.