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Are some moral or ethical standards the same for all people regardless of religious or...

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egordon6 | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted January 22, 2013 at 1:55 AM via web

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Are some moral or ethical standards the same for all people regardless of religious or cultural differences?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 22, 2013 at 2:09 AM (Answer #1)

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There are at least two ways in which to look at this question.

First, we can read the question as a question about what is.   In other words, we can read it as “do all people, regardless of background, believe in some of the same moral and ethical standards?”  In this case, the answer is largely “no.”  There do not seem to be any standards that are completely universal.  For example, we would think that a universal rule would be a rule against killing.  However, this does not seem to be universal.  There are plenty of people who think that it is legitimate to, for example, kill people who are not of their own religious group.  This implies that there is no universal idea that killing is immoral or unethical.

Second, we can read the question as a question about what should be.  In other words, we can read it as “are there moral or ethical standards that apply to everyone, regardless of whether they think those standards apply?”  Here, there is no objective answer.  We cannot know if there are any moral standards that are absolute.  We may think that there are, but there is no way for us to prove that our standards are objectively right and should apply to everyone else in the world.

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