Moral Judgments of Foreign Cultures and Bygone Epochs. A Two-Tier Approach

In Christian Kanzian & Edmund Runggaldier (eds.), Cultures. Conflict - Analysis - Dialogue. Proceedings of the 29. International Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg Am Wechsel, Austria 2006. Ontos Verlag. pp. 343-352 (2006)
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In this paper the ethical problem is discussed how moral judgments of foreign cultures and bygone epochs can be justified. After ruling out the extremes of moral absolutism (judging without any reservations by the standards of one's own culture and epoch) and moral relativism (judging only by the respective standards of the time and culture in question) the following solution to the dilemma is sought: A distinction has to be made between judging the norms and institutions in power at a certain place and time and judging people acting within the social institutions of their time and culture. While the former may be judged rigorously, only taking into account the objective possibilities for having other institutions at a certain development stage, the latter should be judged against the background of the common sense morals of the respective time and culture.

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Eckhart Arnold
Bavarian Academy of Sciences And Humanities


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