I would like Writer’s Username: Writergrrl101 to write this essay. I will be e-mailing docs for this assignment as well.
Benedict: “A Defense of Moral Relativism” [ERes]
Irvine: “Confronting Relativism” (ERes)
Note: These two essays are the foundation for this week’s assignment. You should read them and fully digest the ideas in them before moving on to the other readings for this week.
Emerson: “Self-Reliance,” 300
Moynihan: “Defining Deviancy Down” 414
Krauthammer: “Defining Deviancy Up” 422
Bennett: “The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators 2001” 534
Note: Moynihan, Krauthammer, and Bennett are, like Irvine, moral absolutists. In relating ideas from their essays to this week’s writing assignment scenario, focus on their moral absolutism
. Their views are very different from the individualist relativist Emerson’s and the cultural and moral relativist Benedict
Writing Assignment 5.1:
Scenario: Your classmate and friend Jaza, from Mongolia, never socializes with you and the other students after class even though she seems to enjoy your company in class. In fact, it seems to you that she may be romantically interested in Sam, another classmate. When you ask her one day about Sam, she confesses that she is very much attracted to Sam and would love to have a relationship with him; however, she explains, her parents have already selected a spouse for her back in Mongolia, a very nice young man, and she will be marrying him when she returns to Mongolia.
“Do you love him?” you ask.
“Not yet,” she answers. “I barely know him, really. But I think I’ll learn to love him.”
Over the next few months, you can tell that Sam is growing interested in Jaza too. And it does seem to you that they would make a great couple. So, when you are invited to a graduation party at Jaza’s apartment and you meet Jaza’s mother, who’s flown in from Mongolia, you decide you have to say something. When Jaza’s mother and you are alone together, you tell her about Sam and Jaza and that you think Jaza would be very happy with Sam, happier than being married to someone she barely knows.
Jaza’s mother thanks you for your concerns about Jaza, but then politely asks that you mind your own business since she knows much better than you what is in Jaza’s best interest and what sort of man would be a good match for her. After all, she points out, 50% of marriages in America end in divorce, whereas fewer than 5% of marriages end in divorce in Mongolia. “Clearly,” says Jaza’s mother, “Mongolians have more to teach Americans about successful marriages than Americans have to teach Mongolians.”
Later that night, you find Jaza alone and in tears. When you ask what’s wrong, she confides that she has just had to say goodbye to Sam forever even though she loves him madly.
“If you love him,” you ask, “why not marry him then? Who cares what your parents think? They cannot control you. You have a right to your own happiness.”
“I can’t,” cries Jaza; “it wouldn’t be right. I shouldn’t have let my feelings grow for Sam since I always knew nothing could come of it.”
A week later, Jaza is gone, never to see Sam again. And you feel miserable for her. “How could she stand to live in a country that doesn’t allow people to make their own decisions about whom to marry?” you ask yourself. But is that a fair question for you to ask? DO PEOPLE OF ONE COUNTRY AND CULTURE HAVE ANY LEGITIMATE RIGHT TO CRITICIZE OR DENIGRATE THE BELIEFS AND PRACTICES OF ANY OTHER COUNTRY AND CULTURE--I.E., CAN ONE CULTURE’S VALUES EVER REASONABLY BE CONSIDERED SUPERIOR TO THOSE OF ANOTHER? COMPOSE A 1,000-WORD MINIMUM ESSAY ANSWERING THIS QUESTION. THE MAIN ISSUE HERE IS BETWEEN CULTURAL AND MORAL RELATIVISM AND ABSOLUTISM
. THE READINGS ALIGN IN ONE CAMP OR ANOTHER: AS NOTED ABOVE, EMERSON AND BENEDICT ARE RELATIVISTS AND MOYNIHAN, KRAUTHAMMER, BENNETT, AND IRVINE ARE ABSOLUTISTS. FOR MOYNIHAN, KRAUTHAMMER, AND BENNETT, DO NOT GET DISTRACTED BY THE PARTICULAR ISSUES THEY WRITE ABOUT. INSTEAD, NOTE THEIR STANCE OF MORAL ABSOLUTISM
AND THEIR IDEAS ABOUT THE FAMILY.
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