relativism in intro courses

Sun, 24 Apr 1994 18:30:00 PDT

Silverman writes:

"Given that, in order to act, we must make moral choices and evaluation, how
do we do so wihtout violating cultural relativism?"

The conflict appears to lie in how the question has been framed. As various
posters (is that the right word?) have noted, cultural relativism relates to
a temporary suspension of one's personal, moral judgement that are not part
of scientific discourse so as to proceed in a manner that
analytically excludes the biasing effects of moral judgement. To do so does
not deny taking a moral position, only that a moral position is to be taken
outside of scientific discourse. When we make a moral choice, we are quite
likely, and perhaps even necessarily, violating cultural relativism.
Cultural relativism belongs to the domain of scientific discourse; moral
choices belong to the domain of ethics. There is only a dilemna if one wants
the moral decision and the scientific discourse to be in agreement.
There will be disagreement and even violent conflict because scientific
discourse and moral discourse are predicated on different and mutually
incompatible epistomologies. Morality is a cultural invention and, for the
purpose of scientific discourse, has no extrinsic reality, hence there is no
reason to expect agreement between a moral position and discourse based on
cultural relativism.

The answer, then, does not lie in trying to make cultural relativism and
moral evaluation compatible, but in referring matters of morality to
those domains that properly make morality part of their discourse, such as

D. Read