Case Study: Cultural Relativism (Other (Not Listed) Sample)
Your project Task: Read the following scenario and answer the questions.
Four (4) sailors were ship wrecked by a storm, two thousand (2000) kilometers from land. They share a lifeboat, but have very few supplies to keep them all alive. The fourth (4th) sailor is a teenager, the other three (3) are mature men. They have been stranded at sea for Fivteen (15) days, by which point they have been without food and water for several days. Two (2) of the men decide to draw lots to see which one of them will sacrifice himself (be killed) so that the other three (3) sailors could eat him and save their lives. The third man (3rd) refuses to draw lots and the teenager is too weak to take part in the decision. Only two (2) of the men kill the teenager, but all three of the men eat him.
1. Explain ethical moral reasoning in relation to social, academic and professional contexts (CLO 1) (50 marks in total)
a) Explain Cultural Relativism’s view of the older sailors’ actions. (20 marks)
b) Explain Subjectivism’s view of the older sailors’ actions. (10 marks)
c) Explain the Ideal-observer’s view of the older sailors’ actions. (10 marks)
d) Explain Supernaturalism’s view of the older sailors’ actions. (10 marks)
2. Assess various ethical theories and apply to authentic and hypothetical situations ( CLO 3) (50 marks in total)
a) Discuss whether the men’s actions were legally wrong or not. (10 marks)
b) Discuss whether the men’s actions were ethical or not. (10 marks)
c) Why are ethics and law considered separate concepts? (10 marks)
d) The sailor’s believed they should kill and eat the younger sailor, but the court held they ought not to have killed him. Explain the difference between the words should and ought in the context of ethics. (20 marks)
1 Explain ethical-moral reasoning in relation to social, academic, and professional contexts (CLO1)
* The actions of the older sailors to draw their lots, kill, and feed on the teenagers are acceptable according to their culture. Cultural relativism states that cultures are fundamentally different from one another. Whether an action by an individual is right or wrong is solely determined according to the ethical standards of the society within which the action occurs CITATION Car06 \l 2057 (Carnegie Council, 2006). The actions of the older sailors may be perceived as wrong or evil, but they are right or acceptable within their cultural framework. Therefore, the morality or legality of their action does not apply in cultural relativism. According to cultural relativism, they can only be judged according to the community's ethical standards and culture from which they originate but not other societies.
* Subjectivism emphasizes morality when making judgments about certain issues. The subjectivism theory states no objective moral truths, such as murder is wrong irrespective of the circumstances CITATION BBCnd \l 2057 (BBC, n.d.). When one applies the subjectivism theory to the case study, the actions of the older sailors of killing and eating the teenagers were wrong irrespective of the circumstances they were facing at that time. This view judges the moral actions of the older sailors while ignoring their difficult circumstances or whether their actions are acceptable within their culture. It also assumes that moral views are factual views and human beings ought to act in a specific ethical manner.
* In this case, the ideal observer would apply the reasonable person approach. The ideal-observer theory stipulates that the ideal observer's moral judgment would determine the truth or objectivity of the actions committed by an individual in hypothetical terms CITATION Bra55 \l 2057 (Brandt, 1955). Based on the older sailor's actions, they were morally wrong in killing the teenager. Although their current circumstances ought to be given consideration, their ultimate action cannot be considered moral according to the ideal observer's view of the situation. Other considerations of their culture cannot be considered since the ideal observer views murder and feeding on the teenager as wrong.
* The supernaturalism approach stipulates that the only source of moral rules and everything good is God CITATION BBCnd1 \l 2057 (BBC, n.d.). This view borrows heavily from theological and religious teachings. Therefore the actions of the older sailors do not augur well with the supernaturalism view because religious and theological teachings or writings indicate that God said murder is wrong and immoral. According to this view, only God has the power to give and take an individual's life because that is what he wanted and said. Such views can be found in the ten commandments in which God specifically said that one should not kill another human being. Therefore, despite their desperate situation, the older sailors should not have murdered the boy.
2 Assess various ethical theories and apply to authentic and hypothetical situations (CLO 3)
* The actions of the men were legally wrong. The men committed a crime that is punishable by law in many jurisdictions. It is, however, critical to note that although the men might have committed a serious crime, their punishments could vary depending on the jurisdiction. For instance, in the United States and European nations, the judge or jury will have to consider various factors to determine the nature of the killing and, subsequently, their punishment. However, in Islamic law jurisdictions, these men would be sentenced to death for taking the teenager's life.
* When deciding whether killing is ethically wrong or right, one must consider various theories that explain an individual's actions ethically. These ethical theories include the libertarian moral theory, deontology, and utilitarianism used to describe when and why killing is wrong or right. For instance, deontological theory strictly forbids such actions and states that a human being has to abstain from committing acts such as stealing and murder. More importantly, it ignores the circumstances under which the killi
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