AN APPRAISAL OF ETHICAL RELATIVISM AND ITS IMPLICATIONS ON ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS

  • FELIX AYEMERE AIROBOMAN DEPARTMENT OF PHILOSOPHY, UNIVERSITY OF BENIN
Keywords: Culture-dependent morality, Cultural (ab)normality, Cultural differences, Environmental ethics, Moral quandary

Abstract

Ethical relativism is a theory in ethics, which holds that morality is culture-dependent
and thus culturally validated. This study is a critical inquiry into this doctrine and its
implications on environmental ethics and sustainability. It presents the doctrine of
ethical relativism and draws attention to what appears appealing in this theory. It
then focuses critically on the problems associated with it that makes it unappealing.
The study argues that the differences in cultural beliefs and norms, which ethical
relativists portray to exist in different cultures, are exaggerated since they are not as
different in values as they would want us to believe. The study criticizes this view of
ethical relativism by arguing against some of its canons. Thereafter, it attempts a brief
explication of what environmental ethics is, and attend to the negative implications of
ethical relativism on environmental ethics and environmental sustainability. It argues
among others that ethical relativism would lead people astray in dealing with the most
disturbing questions and challenges in environmental ethics, and in accounting for
how various problems of sustainability can be genuinely brought under control. It
concludes that ethical relativism cannot establish a safe human relation with nature.

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Published
2020-09-14