According to Smith (2008), different ethical theories exist. Some of the theories are teleological (meaning what is wrong or right depends on the outcome or the results of an action) while others are deontological (meaning that performing what is right is one’s duty). Teleological theories are easily thought as relativist while deontological theories are easily understood as absolutist. However, this paper will focus on theory of moral relativism.
Moral relativism is an absolutist theory. It upholds that whether an action is wrong or right it depends on morality of the society that practises it. One action may be morally wrong in one society, but right in other society (Joyce, 2006). For moral relativism, there are no standards that can be used at all times to all people. If moral relativism is right, there can never be certain ways of resolving moral issues among members who come from different societies. Nonetheless, many ethicists dispute the theory, with some contenting that the central principle the moral underlying, the practices of societies does not differ despite the fact that their moral practices do.
Nevertheless, a universal moral standard can be found even if beliefs and moral practices vary among different cultures. People can acknowledge differences in moral beliefs and practices and still understand that a number of those beliefs and practices are morally wrong (Janaro & Altshuler, 2011). For instance, the apartheid practice in South Africa was wrong irrespective of the beliefs and norms of people in those societies. Moreover, the way Jews were treated in Nazi society is morally condemnatory irrespective of the moral beliefs held by that society. Therefore, ethics is a query into wrong and right through an examination that is critical to the notions and reasons that underline beliefs and practices. As a theory justifies moral beliefs and practices, it fails to accept that, various societies could have better reasons for upholding their beliefs than others.
References Janaro, R. P & Altshuler, T., C. (2011) The Art of Being Human: The Humanities As a Technique for Living. New York: Prentice Hall. Joyce, R. (2006) The Evolution of Morality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Print Smith, D. (2008). Friedrich Nietzsche. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 362–363.