Anh Nguyen Professor: Daniel Lim Philosophy 20 Essay 1 “Ethical Relativism” This is the definition of ethical relativism that I read from our textbook on page 116: “We may choose to believe that there is no universal moral truth '' that each culture has its own set of rules that are valid for that culture, and we have no right to interference, just as they have no right to interfere with our rules. This attitude, known as ethical relativism, is not as radical as skepticism because it allows that moral truths exist but holds that they are relative to their time and place”. I will stick to this definition to attack ethical relativism, or consider its advantages. One of the reasons for the popularity of relativism is the value our society recognizes in multiculturalism and tolerance. For most of its history, the United States did not value these things. Consider, for instance, that white settlers came quite close to wiping out the many hundreds of cultures that were native to the Americas. This decimation was both intentional such as war, genocide, and cultural reeducation and unintentional such as spreading diseases. However, the United States is not alone here. Most powerful nations have, in the past, taken every opportunity to gain territory and convert the people already living there to the religious and cultural principles of the powerful country. The extreme popularity of ethical relativism means that many Americans think that in order to uphold the values of tolerance and multiculturalism they must make no judgments at all, that they must accept any and all beliefs and practices as equally good. Modern Americans are, to some degree, embarrassed by the conduct of our ancestors. They do not want to make these ethical errors and so they see value in being open-minded about differences and in protecting the integrity of others' cultural beliefs Although I want to attack ethical relativism, I will consider some of its advantages.