Some Situations Are Just Wrong
SOC120: Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility
Let me first start by saying that was an excellent article that was written by Lenn Goodman, “Some Moral Minima.” Looking at the whole Relativism theory makes you wonder about everything that is considered right and wrong around you. Then you come to look at in a closer perspective and you realize that there are just some things in this world that are universally wrong. In this paper I will discuss why I feel Goodman is right about most of her arguments, I will explore some of the challenges she presented to the theory of relativism, and I will list some examples I think are universal moral requirements.
Goodman was right on point with everything she discussed. Some things in this world are just wrong and it doesn’t matter what society you are from. Just take a look at history. One might consider some of the customs cultures have practiced, and may continue to practiced, that one might object to: persecuting and killing ethnic minorities, genocide, mass executions of people from a minority religion, infanticide, torture, slavery, systematic oppression of women (and, sadly, the list may go on) (Mosser,1.8,para. 7). Would you really say to yourself that this is wrong but it’s ok for another culture to do since it’s something they practice? Stating that “Genocide is wrong for my culture, but might be right for another culture” seems inadequate to express a sufficiently strong condemnation of genocide (Mosser,1.8,para. 7). You don’t have to be a saint to realize that some things in this world are just wrong. Sure we shouldn’t judge others for what they do, but these examples right here are a little extreme. If we strictly went by this whole relativism theory then there will be a lot of chaos on this earth. More then there is now.
Goodman listed a couple of challenges to put up against relativism. She talked about genocide, germ warfare, terrorism, slavery, rape, and more. These are true examples of things that can be mentioned why they are wrong and not why it’s ok. She did mention polygamy, and I feel this one can go both ways really. Now unless the women were forced into the marriage then I can see how this can be morally wrong. I tend to see things on a bigger scale though. I have a couple friends that believe in this. One is a female the other is a male. Not everyone who believes in this keeps the whole relationship in the family. I try to see it as the women who go along with this type of marriage know what they getting into. It’s their choice to do this. No one is forcing them. Now when you get into the characters out there in the world that practice polygamy, but incest is involved. That’s when you have to pull out the understanding that– now the whole situation is wrong. Even some will like to argue that incest is wrong depending on the culture. Once again you have to open your mind to this one. Most of the world base incest off being wrong based on what comes from religious views. So if one culture religious views mention nothing about incest being wrong then how can you determine that it is? You simply can’t just because that’s what you believe. Now one of my many reasons I believe it is wrong because of the possibility of mental retardation that can occur with inbreeding. Some cultures don’t even know about this. They don’t think about it.
Most of the examples I can think of Goodman already hit on them. Rape is a big one to me. I don’t know anywhere in the world where someone will say it’s ok to rape if it’s the culture way of doing things. No, it just doesn’t work that way. This is taken someone security away. You are violating their comfort zone. This applies to men and women. Rape is wrong because it stands at the extreme limit of a continuum of sexual acts, from the most committed to the least so, and the most alienating (Goodman, p.7, para. 2). There is no way around this to say that it’s ok. Another one is given hardcore drugs to adolescents. How can it be ok to give a kid drugs because that’s the way that particular culture works? Your average 6 to 10 year old kid doesn’t know what cocaine or heroin is and the reasons why it is so bad. So giving something like this to them is just wrong. Also what about exposing adolescents to sexual explicit material? This will be deemed wrong by many societies and there is really no way in justifying it as being right. The mental corruption it can have on a young mind is just extreme. This can cause mental behaviors that later on in life act out into bigger problems like sex crimes. Children preoccupied with sex may attempt to engage younger children in sexual behavior because younger and smaller children are easier to manipulate and often more cooperative (Hughes 1998). There are so many examples out there that can be listed as wrong with no justification.
There will always be an argument for anything out there that is stated as a theory. Relativism is just one out of a million. I believe Goodman was just trying to let it be known that not everything in this world deserves an excuse. I understand that clearly. It will never be clear for some cultures to tell them what it is wrong and what is right, when what we think is immoral was never taught to them as being immoral. Relativism may help us get some perspective on some issues, but it seems to fall short when we consider what some cultures and societies have done in the past—for example slavery—and how they were able to reject such practices (Mosser,1.8,para. 9). Cultures evolve all the time so that’s what we will have to depend on mostly for some of the extreme ideas and ways to go away.
Hughes, D.R. (2001). The Symptoms of Sexual Disturbance Among Children. Retrieved from
Goodman, L. E. (2010). Some Moral Minima. The Good Society, 19(1), 87-94. Retrieved from
Mosser, K. (2010). Introduction to ethics and social responsibility. San Diego, Bridgepoint
Education, Inc. https://content.ashford.edu