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This book we use for this class: Title: The Elements of Moral Philosophy Authors

This book we use for this class: Title: The Elements of Moral Philosophy
Authors: James Rachels, Stuart Rachels
Publisher: Mcgraw-Hill Education
Publication Date: 2022-05-04
Edition: 10th
Subjective Moral Relativism: A subjective moral relativist would argue that morality is entirely dependent on individual beliefs, cultural practices, or personal preferences. In this case, they might say that the plastic surgeon’s decision to perform female circumcision is morally acceptable within the context of their cultural norms and personal beliefs. According to subjective moral relativism, there are no universal moral truths that apply universally; instead, morality is subjective and varies from person to person or culture to culture.
Do I agree with the subjective moral relativist? While I understand the perspective of subjective moral relativism, I do not entirely agree with it in this case. It raises ethical concerns because the practice of female circumcision, especially in its severe forms, is considered harmful and a violation of human rights by many international organizations and medical professionals. Even though the surgeon’s culture may accept it, there is a broader ethical consideration regarding the well-being and rights of the young girl undergoing the procedure.
Cultural Moral Relativism: Cultural moral relativism argues that moral standards are relative to cultures, meaning that what is considered morally right or wrong is determined by the norms and values of a particular society or culture. In this scenario, a cultural relativist would likely argue that since female circumcision is accepted in the surgeon’s culture, it is morally permissible for them to perform it. They would emphasize respecting cultural diversity and not imposing one culture’s moral standards on another.
Do I agree with the cultural relativist? Similarly to subjective moral relativism, while I appreciate the cultural relativist perspective in promoting tolerance and understanding across cultures, I find it challenging to fully agree in this context. This is because cultural relativism can sometimes lead to moral skepticism or justify practices that are universally considered harmful or unethical. There are basic human rights principles, such as bodily integrity and protection from harm, that may outweigh cultural traditions or practices.
Criticism of Cultural Relativism: Critics of cultural relativism argue that it can lead to moral skepticism, where one culture’s practices are seen as beyond critique or judgment. It may fail to provide a basis for condemning practices that universally violate human rights, such as female genital mutilation. Additionally, cultural relativism may undermine efforts to promote human rights and ethical standards globally, as it prioritizes cultural tolerance over universal moral principles.
Objective Moral Truth: Whether there is an objective moral truth in this case depends on one’s ethical framework. From a perspective that values human rights and considers the well-being of the child paramount, there may be an objective moral truth that performing female circumcision, especially without the informed consent of the child, is ethically wrong. This perspective would argue that certain actions are universally right or wrong based on their consequences and their impact on human dignity and well-being.
Do I believe there is an objective moral truth? Yes, in this scenario, I believe there is an objective moral truth that performing female circumcision on a young girl, particularly without her consent and under circumstances where harm is likely, is ethically wrong. This perspective aligns with principles of medical ethics, human rights, and the duty of healthcare professionals to do no harm.
In conclusion, while ethical relativism provides valuable insights into cultural diversity and moral perspectives, it can be insufficient when faced with practices that universally violate human rights. In this scenario, the well-being and rights of the child should take precedence, and ethical decisions should be guided by principles that uphold human dignity and protect individuals from harm.
American Psychological Association. (2019). Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/topics/female-genital-mutilationLinks to an external site.
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). (2020). Female Genital Mutilation. Retrieved from https://www.:.org/female-genital-mutilation
Rachels, J., & Rachels, S. (2019). The Elements of Moral Philosophy (9th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
Beauchamp, T. L., & Childress, J. F. (2019). Principles of Biomedical Ethics (8th ed.). Oxford University Press.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (n.d.). Moral Relativism. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-relativism/Links to an external site.
UNESCO. (2016). Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation: An Interagency Statement. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000244798Links to an external site.

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