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Essay: Moral Universalism and other theories

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Moral Relativism

Moral relativism is a theory that deals with morals being relative to your culture. An example of this is women showing skin in some middle-eastern countries. In their culture relative to them, this is horrible and unimaginable. In America (our culture) it is not out of the norm to see a girl or boy at the beach wearing close to nothing. There are many arguments that agree with moral relativism because there are so many different cultures and it is not our place to judge others because they do not follow the same moral rules that we do in America. There are also arguments against moral relativism because some believe that morals are universal and what is morally wrong in one place should also be morally wrong in others. An example of this is murder, in some cultures murder is acceptable under certain terms or when someone breaks the law and there are other cultures where murder is always considered morally wrong. My view of this theory is somewhat mixed. I believe in both sides, there should be some things that are moral universal laws and some things that are relative to your culture. I find it hard to think everyone should conform to one set of norms.

Moral Universalism

Moral universalism is a theory that deals with certain situations that could fall under universal code of conduct. This means that there are situations that everyone on the planet would or should agree is morally acceptable or the opposite. An example of this is a person being raped, no matter your sex, race, nationality, etc. most would agree that rape is horrible and is absolutely morally unacceptable. An argument for moral universalism seems pretty obvious, it is a great way of determining truly good and truly evil deeds because everyone would be able to point out and agree as to what is right and wrong. Arguments against include things like moral relativism. It would be impossible for us to universally agree on what is right and wrong because there are so many different kinds of people. I agree completely that there are certain things that are universally accepted as being immoral but I can only see it from the vantage point of my own background and culture. It is easy to point out immoral doings when everyone around you in your own culture agrees. The true challenge is bringing in all kinds of diversity and different backgrounds

Ethical Egoism

Ethical egoism is a theory that states that we should put our own self-interests above all else. Ethical egoism says that by putting ourselves ahead of everything else we are morally right as well as ethical. Ethical egoism differs from psychological egoism because psychological egoism states that we don’t have a choice to put our own self-interests first and the selfishness is a part of human nature. Ethical egoism states that we do have a choice. Like every concept, some people agree and others do not. Some say that ethical egoism is the only way to be successful and if everyone always acted in their own self-interest we would know what to expect out of people’s decisions. There are also some people that think part of our overall happiness involves helping others and acting selflessly. I would have to agree that it brings people a lot of joy to be able to help others and I do not believe people should always just act in their own self-interest.


Utilitarianism is the idea that we should maximize overall net happiness for everyone involved and minimize pain. This theory says that even if you were faced with a decision that would really hurt yourself, if it would help others more overall, you would make the decision that hurts yourself. There are many famous philosophers that strongly support utilitarianism because they say if the overall outcome is more happiness then it has to be the best option. An argument against this theory is pretty simple; most people would not choose to hurt someone that they love if it means making overall net happiness increase. Also, would it actually be possible to foresee every possible party that will be involved with the decision and accurately measure the amount of happiness or pain that will occur? Personally, I don’t think it is possible to accurately measure these aspects of the world and that is why I don’t support utilitarianism.

Kantian Deontology

Kantian Deontology is a theory that teaches if the outcome justifies your action, you are morally correct. An example of this was shared with us in class. The situation involved torturing a little girl in order to save millions of lives from an exploding bomb in a major city. Kantian Deontology says that it is acceptable to torture her because the outcome would justify your action. An argument against Kantian deontology states that it is never acceptable to hurt someone or act immorally no matter what outcome lies ahead. Others would argue with that statement and say that if you go the outcome that you wanted based on your action, it is a justified and moral action. In my opinion, there are times when the outcome justifies the conclusion. In the case of torturing the little girl to save millions of lives, I agree, in the case of lying and getting away with it to get the conclusion that you wanted, I do not believe it is moral.


Libertarianism is a political stance that wants to limit government interference and allow people to be more autonomous. According to libertarianism, taxation of the people is the government stealing money. Libertarians want complete political freedom and no power at all to the state. Some possible problems and arguments against libertarianism deal with the formation of monopolies and problems within the market. When there are no regulations on monopolies it becomes impossible for there to be any competition. There are also some strong arguments for libertarianism. An example of an argument in favor of libertarianism involves our rights as citizens and the government taxing and taking from people is morally wrong and it violates our rights. I personally believe that there should be less government involvement than there is in our system now but I believe the government needs to play a role in society and things would go to chaos without them.

Rawlsian Liberalism

Rawlsian liberalism is a theory that deals with distribution of things such as wealth and goods. Rawls says that if we were behind a veil of ignorance and we did not know which socioeconomic status we would fall into in life, we would always try to maximize the minimum and give the lowest tier the highest number possible. Critiques and arguments against Rawlsian Liberalism say that there will always be large gaps in people’s socioeconomic status because people have extremely different skill sets and it is impossible to truly fill the gap. Arguments to support this theory are very obvious. If you had to make the decision you would always follow the maximin rule and maximize the category that is worse off. I am in support of Rawlsian liberalism and think that it is always important maximize the minimum even if you know your socioeconomic status.


Socialism is a theory that attempts to bring everyone to the same origin or starting point and compensate for inborn inequalities. Socialism works to lower or possibly eliminate economic class and its influence. In socialism, the state owns means of production instead of people owning means of production privately. Workers work and produce to the best of their ability and then everyone reaps the benefits of that hard work equally. The reason socialism works on paper but has never been successful in any country leads back almost solely to corruption within the government. This is the main argument against socialism because the corruption has been seen multiple times throughout history. Those in support of socialism argue the looks of it on paper and how well it would truly work if completed without corruption. There are some aspects in America that have socialist ideologies like nation-wide healthcare and services such as the police department. I believe that socialism sounds like a great idea when you read about it but the bottom line is, people suck. When someone has a lot of power, they abuse it. This corruption has repeated itself time and time again throughout history.

Shareholder Capitalism

Shareholder capitalism deals with profit maximization. This view is concerned with making the most money possible and making whatever decision is necessary to continue to maximize profit. There are a lot of times when workers deserve their salaries raised or a renovated break room but that money is given to the shareholders instead. According to shareholder capitalism, the decision that maximizes profit is the morally and ethically correct decision. The strongest argument against shareholder capital is a bad work environment and possibly negative effects on the environment if pollution of dangerous chemicals is the cheapest route for a company. When there is extra money and workers needs are not being met, it will lower morale. The argument in support of shareholder capital is that since the shareholders are taking the risk and using their money, they are entitled to the profits of the company. From my experience, when workers feel like they matter and morale is high, that is when the most work gets done. That is why I feel shareholder capital is not the best system to operate on.

Stakeholder Capital

Stakeholder capital is a much broader view of operation in business and is concerned with worker morale as well as harming the environment around them. Stakeholder capitalists believe that if the reinvest into their company and their workers it will pay off in the long term because worker morale will boost and as a result, worker productivity will increase. The arguments against stakeholder capital include people believing that the investors deserve all of the dividends because they are the ones taking the risks. Those who support it say that it is important to look at the long term and make worker morale a priority. I believe the broader view is extremely important. When workers feel as though the bosses truly care about them, they feel their job is important and work harder.

Mandating a “Living Wage”

A living wage is the amount of money that full-time employees need to afford the necessities of life and also live above the poverty line. A living wage supporter would argue that someone should not be able to work forty hours per week and still live below the poverty line. The consequences of raising the minimum wage to a living wage are that firms would likely fire employees to maintain their salary cap and so that their cost does not increase. Also, a living wage would hurt small businesses and cause them to raise their prices, which in the end affects everyone and causes everyone to pay more. Personally, I agree that someone should not be working full-time and still be living in poverty but I also believe raising minimum wage is useless and would make the cost of almost everything else increase.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action takes action on group of people who tend to suffer discrimination. For example, colleges will set aside a certain number of spots for minorities so that they have a more level playing field when it comes to getting in to college. According to the supreme court, setting quotas for the number of certain minorities accepted into college and not filling those spots if there is not enough eligible applicants is unconstitutional (Bakke vs. Regents of the University of California). An argument in support of affirmative action is that it can help minority students who don’t have the same opportunity level to succeed and attend college as other non-minority students. An argument against affirmative action deals with people who are qualified applicants and get turned away so that someone less qualified that is a minority can get in to a certain school. In this case, the decision would be based solely on race and in my opinion could be seen as discrimination. I understand why affirmative action is important but I believe it should not play a large role when admitting qualified applicants.


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