HAT Forum Sat July 11th 2015 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Setting Precedence: Culture vs Ethics

HAT Forum Sat July 11th 2015 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Location: The Klein House (call 416-966-1361 for specifics if you are a member or regular Forum attendee)

Setting Precedence: Culture vs Ethics

As we have no received wisdom from an objective higher power to guide us, humanists are asked to critically consider all sources of wisdom to develop and redevelop our ethical sense and give meaning to our lives. Our views of right and wrong, desirable and undesirable and our values determine our own course through life.
If we wish to go beyond ourselves to influence the world and make it a better place for ourselves and for others we need to decide a direction based upon our values and ethical sense. We realize, however, these can be biased by our position in the world - our race, our gender, our class and our culture.
From the desire to positively impact the world but also be respectful of the differences between humans comes some tension and a potential conflict.
1. Are there ethical standards that take precedence over culture?
2. How far can we go to produce a philosophy of human well-being that can be applied across all cultures? What are the pitfalls associated with this?

3. Example: The Wulin Dog Eating Festival in China took place recently. A reported 10000 dogs were killed and eaten. Many of the dogs were treated inhumanely, by Western standards (boiled alive, skinned alive). Protests against the Festival took place. Are there legitimate ethical grounds to argue against this cultural practice?
4. Example: Many cultures in the world place a lower value on women than men and treat them very differently in many spheres. Do we have any grounds to promote a value of respect and equality for women on these cultures in other countries? What about when they are acting within our own country?
5. Democracy, Freedom of Speech, gender equality, wealth equity, tolerance can all be discussed in terms of where each of these values is limited by culture (including religion) and whether the need to respect the value trumps cultural sensitivity.