Kati Roivas, Practicum 1


This video clip; 419 What Are Examples of Moral Relativism in Our Culture explains the terms of moral or ethical relativism through real life examples by Steven Garofalo.  He challenges the definition of ethical relativism and its core values. Ethical relativism states that ethical values are created by people who hold the beliefs; things that are relative to personal or cultural surroundings. Garofalo says that the whole world accepts that things such as murder or rape are wrong actions, and even in Islamic cultures, where there is terrorism, murder within terrorism is considered wrong. This is against the pure idea of moral or ethical relativism and Steven Carofalo challenges this position of morality by stating that there are moral absolutes but philosophy wants to deny that, and similar moral values work cross culturally. However, there are things that are right for one person, but wrong for another. Quoting his book: “Right for you, but not for me’, reveals that morality can be partially culture specific, but there are certain things that have revealed to be true cross cultures. Thus, the video clip and ideas of Steven Garofalo support the idea of that there is not always really morally right or wrong thing, but it is up to an individual or culture to define it, as it is in case of terrorism, which would be wrong in our culture, but not in Islamic cultures. However, some moral ideas seem to be cross cultural, such as that murder is wrong, and it can be seen as a criticism toward ethical relativism.

This illustrates the core concept of ethical relativism being culture or even specific to particular individual, based on what is true or relative to them, but on the other hand it raises criticism of ethical relativism stating that there seems to be moral principles that are true across cultures. I think that the importance of this clip is how it shows the basic principles of moral or ethical relativism in real life examples without forgetting it limitations and criticism.

5 Discussion questions:

  1. While Steven Garofalo believes that certain moral principles support the view of ethical relativism, what did he not agree with?
  2. What does the quote “Right for you, but not for me’ mean from ethical relativism standpoint?
  3. Garofalo states that murder and rape are considered wrong cross culturally. What other moral behaviors could fall in this category and what behaviors are supporting ethical relativism?
  4. List some examples from our own life that support the idea of ethical relativism, that is right for you, but may not be right for others.
  5. If terrorist commits a murder, from ethical relativist’s point of view, would this be right or wrong?

I think that this assignment was useful, because I was able to search sources and get different points of view to support my learning. It was interesting to create the discussion questions, because, instead of just answering to them, I was able to think about, what kind of questions, are supporting the material learned, and how it can enhance the learning. Overall, I think that this kind of assignments are useful and can add depth in learning, instead of regular assignments and essays.

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