Explain how a normative science of ethics is defined.
According to Westermarck, what is the basis for the belief in the objectivity of moral values?
Why does Westermarck object to the notion of a conscience as the basis of the objectivity of moral judgments?
Explain why, in Westermarck's view, "[T]o say that something is right because it is in accordance with the will of a Supreme Being is to reason in a circle."
What reasons does Westermarck give for supposing ethical relativism is an advantage to morality?
How does Westermarck answer the charge of "ethical subjectivism" against his view of ethical relativity?
Clarify Westermarck's argument that moral judgments cannot be objective even though they are not arbitrary.
Edward Westermarck, Ethical Relativity (New York: Littlefield, Adams & Company, 1932).
In brief, psychological (or sociological) relativism is the empirical observation that moral behavior and the consequent morals differ among cultures, societies, and groups—both in the present and in the past. On this view, moral standards are descriptive—not prescriptive—and so this view is generally noncontroversial. Ethical relativism is the denial there is one objective moral standard for all groups at all times; more precisely, ethical relativism is the doctrine that differences in moral standards ought to exist among different cultures.
Try to be more informative than Garner and Rosen's assessment, "He seems to believe that moral judgments are not objectively true, though he admits that, in a sense they are objectively true." Richard T. Garner and Bernard Rosen, Moral Philosophy: A Systematic Introduction to Normative Ethics and Meta-ethics (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 246.
|The Reading Selection from Ethical Relativity|