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Moral Relativism: A Reader 1st Edition
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And, clearly, this is a topic where the clarity and patience you find in this collection is sorely needed. Relativism is something about which there is a lot of discussion in academia, in the media, and in everyday conversation. But rarely, if ever, do people discuss what they think relativism really is. This is where this anthology can be very helpful, for many of these papers go to great pains to spell out just what relativism is and why it may or may not be a defensible position. The way to get at relativism is to look at various common-sense ideas that are connected to relativism: that the same thing can be right for people in one group and wrong for people in another, that morality is relative to a person's group, that there is no single true morality, that morality isn't objective, etc. And it is also important to focus, as many of these papers do, on the fact that moral relativism is not simply a matter of the sociological and anthropological facts about moral disagreement and differences. These facts are often take to suggest relativism, but it is important to recognize that they do not immediately imply it. Relativism is one possible response to these facts about disagreement and differences in moral codes between different groups of people.Read more ›
Some of the selections of this reader are excellent, tightly (but not necessarily correctly) argued intro-level articles, particularly the pieces by Harman, Mackie, Scanlon, Nagel and Nussbaum (all very accomplished writers in this area). Others are not as well-written or tightly argued, but they nevertheless raise the crucial issues at stake in discussion of moral relativism, and, therefore, have at least a pedagogical value. Overall a solid starting point for those with a serious interest and willing to think about the issues in detail.
So I skipped to the final section, which is purported to be "a case study on female circumcision/genital mutilation that vividly brings into focus the practical aspects and implications of moral relativism." It sure looked more "user friendly". But the case study isn't really much of a case study as it is a poorly thought out argument against using moral relativism to defend these practices. It's been 15 years since I took my last philosophy course in college, but even I noticed the glaring logic errors used one after another in this argument.
I don't think I've ever been this dissatisfied with a book, so I felt I had to write a review to warn you to stay away!