Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blog Assignment #6


QUESTION #1: If an action that is praised in one culture may be condemned in another, would it be correct to say that all moral values are relative to the culture they are found in?

ANSWER 1A: It would not be correct to say that all moral values are universally relative to the culture they are found in because there are many cultures that share similar values. For instance, modern American culture condemns premeditated murder and so do all modern European cultures. Similarly, many modern Far East cultures also hold similar views. Saying all moral values are relative to the culture they are found in is too much of a generalization. Chapter five in the Ruggiero text has a passage written by a Buddhist about his value system. The book then goes on to explain the similarity of values amongst different religions. For example, Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Amish, Muslims, Taoists, agnostics, and atheists can all agree that having good manners, kind speech, and an uplifted spirit is a good thing. This proves that people from one culture are able to relate to people from other cultures on the basis of certain moral values.


P: All humans are similar in that they all have the same basic physiological, psychological, and intellectual equipment which they use to receive data from their senses and formulate a value system.

P:Similar moral values can be found in many cultures.


C: Therefore, it is NOT correct to say that all moral values are relative to the culture they are found in.

QUESTION #2: Isn’t it a mark of ignorance to pass judgments on other cultures or to claim that one culture is better than another?

ANSWER 2A: It is not a mark of ignorance to pass judgments on other cultures because not passing judgment on other cultures affirms moral relativism. Extreme moral relativism states that it is incorrect to judge other people's actions because they are following their own value system. This kind of logic would promote anarchy which is clearly incorrect. Sometimes, in order to affirm the correctness of a culture's value system, one must necessarily reject the value system of other cultures as the book affirms with its abortion example. Therefore, a philosopher must necessarily pass judgment on the values of other cultures in order to determine the correct values.


P:To hold a belief is to reject ideas in opposition to that belief.

P:One must necessarily pass judgment on other cultures to affirm the correct value system.


C: Therefore, it is NOT a mark of ignorance to pass judgments on other cultures.


See page 63 in our text. Choose one inquiry, from inquiries 3 – 11. Briefly describe the inquiry as the first part of your answer, so your readers know which one you chose. Discuss whether or not the action / decision in each case is ethical. And then, put your argument in equation form. Try to include an ethical principle as one of your premises, as modeled below...

I chose question four which asks if the genocide committed by Joseph Stalin resulting in the deaths of 30 million people was morally acceptable because it took place in a different culture at a different time. Genocide is the unjustified murder of many people based on race, religion, or culture, etc. This act is recognized by many cultures as wrong, therefore it is not relative to only one culture and judgment may be passed on it as a heinous act.

Argument #1

Arguable Issue:
Whether or not the genocide committed by Joseph Stalin is morally acceptable.

P: Genocide is always wrong. (moral principle, based on valuing human life).

P: Affirming genocide as correct would justify almost any act of murder.

C: Therefore, the genocide committed by Joseph Stalin is NOT morally acceptable.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Blog Assignment #5

2) Source:

3)This video is really long so I will summarize it briefly. Basically, the two men in the video are veterans of the Israeli Defense Force. In Israel, most young men and women are required to serve in the military for a least a couple years. The two veterans in the video have chosen to speak out about things they had to do while serving in the IDF that have caused them unrest. They served in the IDF during an event called the second intifada, which was a military operation against the Palestinians resulting in thousands of casualties to the Palestinians and nearly one-thousand casualties for Israel.

This video relates to our text because it talks specifically about the role of conscience in ethical decision making. There is a part in the video where the testimony of an IDF special forces officer is given. The operation described by the officer occurred during the summer of 2004 in Israel. No rules of engagement were given to the IDF soldiers and they demolished houses at their own discretion. The IDF used huge bulldozers to dig large ditches in a circle around a target house. Then the bulldozer would pull up to the house and knock a hole in the wall. After that, an armored personnel carrier would pull up to the hole and drop its ramp, allowing the IDF soldiers inside to storm the house. Many of the targeted houses had nothing to do with the fighting, they were just in the way of the army.

A large part of chapter 4 in our book was devoted to the difference in the level of conscience between people. It broke this difference down into three aspects: natural endowment, social conditioning, and moral choice. Members of the IDF are forced into service and regardless of their predisposition to act with a good conscience, they are socially conditioned to believe that it is patriotic and honorable to serve in the military. This may be true, but what most soldiers aren't ready for are the ethical dilemmas they will face. For instance, some of the IDF commanders issuing orders to demolish houses were as young as 21 years old. These men are making decisions that permanently affect people's lives. Knocking someone's house down just because it was in the way made the men in the video feel shame, a concept our book talks about. The men felt shame because they believed it was wrong and dishonorable to treat innocent people as enemy soldiers would be treated. Even though soldiers had the ability to make a moral choice, their social conditioning caused them to be careless with their power. Essentially, all Palestinians became the enemy instead of just the aggresive ones. The way to reconcile this dilemma according to the book is to follow our conscience, but not blindly. In other words, soldiers should make greater effort to spare the innocent and punish the guilty.

4) Arguable issue: Whether or not this post deserves 25 points.

Conclusion: This post deserves 25 points.

Premises: This post deserves 25 points because...

1) It presents a video that relates to the role of conscience in ethical decision making.

2) It explains the relevance of the video to the chapter in our text book, and

3) It points out specific examples from the textbook and ties them in with the video.