Unlike the majority of societies in the

Unlike
other areas of knowledge, ethics is special because of the unique role it plays
in setting moral standards within a given society. Therefore, like natural
sciences ethics requires robust information in order to overcome various
nuances such as bias. In the majority of societies in the world, the moral
standards of what was considered right or wrong were determined by the most
popular religion within those particular societies. With time, however, the
ethical standards and perception of morality have changed due to the emergence
of different factors such as globalization. These factors have exposed people
to different cultures. It is for this reason that some argue that robust
knowledge in ethics requires both consensus and disagreement.

The
concepts of cultural relativism and cultural relativity are a perfect example
of why both consensus and disagreements are
required for robust knowledge in the field of ethics. Cultural
relativism states that what is considered normal in one society is not
necessarily considered the same in another society.1 Cultural relativity, on
the other hand, is a prescriptive assertion that what is right and good is what
the culture considers to be. This
concept insinuates that there are no higher grounds for judging a cultural norm
in society whether they are for better or worse, or good or bad. The
implication of cultural relativity is grave because it can be used to justify
immoral actions as long as they suit their narrative. The consensus is
important for setting limits to which the concept of cultural relativity can be
used to justify certain cultural norms. At the same time, disagreements are
also required to give room for people in different societies to develop their
understanding. In this case, consensus brings about the concept of universalism
whereby societies are guided by universal
principles that are independent of culture, gender identity, and religion. For
instance, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is a universal
principle that was brought about by consensus among different nations2.

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Considering
there is not a universally agreed-upon culture that can be claimed to be ideal,
all societies have the right to draft norms they deem fit for their society.

This consensus and disagreements in ethics allow for the development of
culture-specific norms in different societies but at the same time create
limits on what norms can be considered as
moral. For instance, journalistic studies have indicated that codes and
regulations of journalists are different in various countries. In this case,
every country has its legal framework for handling the journalism profession.

Therefore, there are disagreements between countries on how to regulate
journalism such as training of journalists. However, there are universal codes
of ethics that guide journalists all over the world. These codes include
objectivity, accountability, and accuracy.3 The above example shows
that consensus acts a framework to control disagreement between different
parties which in turn translates to robust knowledge.

To
counter the claim, one can argue that consensus cannot be used to generate
knowledge in ethics because some societies may justify the use of this kind of
violence against another as it helps them achieve their objectives. In this
case, societies can agree to create cultural principles that support negative
norms in the community.  For example,
studies on gender have indicated that some societies have created gender
stereotypes against women.  For instance,
in some Arab countries, women are not hold leadership positions.4 In addition to that,
disagreement cannot be used to acquire knowledge in ethics because it raises
controversies around various moral concepts. For example, disagreements on
ethics of abortion have raised debates around the act. The controversies have
alienated moral autonomy of self-determination and free choice5.  As a result, ethics of abortion have brought
about moral dilemmas especially on doctors who have to decide whether a mother
should give birth or not.

1 Robbins, D. (2015). Cultural
Relativism and International Politics. London: SAGE

2 Robbins, D. (2015). Cultural
Relativism and International Politics. London: SAGE

3 Smith, R. F. (2003). Groping
for ethics in journalism. Ames: Iowa State Press

4 Esherick, J. (2005). Women
in the Arab world. Philadelphia: Mason Crest Publishers

5 Symposium, C. I. B. A. F.

(2009). Abortion: Medical Progress and Social Implications.

Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.