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A thought inspired by Tuesday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Nazir 57

A thought inspired by Tuesday's Daf (page) in the Talmud, Nazir 57

Moral Universality vs. Cultural Diversity.

This post presents a philosophical idea inspired by the text of today’s Daf. The Daf is one page in the Talmud that tens of thousands of people study each day. I explain the connection to the text in a comment below. My purpose is to show that there are underlying philosophical assumptions in the Talmud that can have great significance for anybody today trying to understand our complex reality.

Different cultures and societies hold diverse values, beliefs, and practices. Even fundamental human rights such as free speech, personal autonomy, and gender equality are not universally accepted. In societies where these rights are not valued, the majority of adults may express strong support for their own cultural norms and values; even by those people we might see ourselves as defending.

Moral philosophy has long grappled with providing a certain foundation for our morals. The challenge of deriving an “ought” from an “is” remains unresolved. Some philosophers argue that making a moral assertion is not a commitment to objective truth or falsehood – it is merely an expression of subjective emotion about an ethical subject. While others may disagree, they have yet to provide solid proof to support their position.

Given this impasse, there are two ways to proceed. One approach advocates for cultural diversity and requires that one culture refrain from judging the values of another. Within this framework, each culture recognizes that their own rules and norms apply only to themselves. For instance, Western Liberalism might argue that equality is an objective truth applicable to all humans regardless of culture, while a Theocratic culture might assert that it is God’s will – the ultimate objective truth – that certain inequalities must be maintained. Despite their internal commitment to the objectivity of their values, the cultural diversity approach requires that in practice, each culture behaves as if the value in question is subjective with respect to other cultures.

On the other hand, the fundamental human rights framework argues that while respectful dialogue may be the right strategy to adopt, it is ultimately the obligation of all societies to guarantee basic values such as freedom of speech and gender equality. This approach might cite the fact that nearly every nation in the world has signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). These basic rules apply universally without exception. There is no moral rule that obligates one person but not another.

The optimal path, as is often the case, likely falls between these two extremes. Despite accusations of brainwashing, if the adults in a society openly agree to values that contradict those in the UDHR, there may be rules that apply to some people but not others. Conversely, there may be some values that necessitate extreme measures to be enforced upon all societies.

If one accepts that some moral obligations do not apply universally across all cultures and societies, the question remains: what about the children? Even if adults have agreed to certain values, does their right to cultural diversity extend to the choices they make for their children?

submitted by /u/eliyah23rd
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Source: Reditt

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