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Good Vs Bad: Plato’s The Euthyphro and Cultural Relativism

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It can be difficult to come up with a good definition of what is “good” and what is “bad”. Everyone’s view on this topic can be different based on their beliefs and values. Ethical and moral principles play a big role in determining what people see as good or bad depending on the situation presented. For example, many have different views and opinions on the topic of the death penalty. Some believe it is right for a criminal to be put on the death penalty based on the crime they committed meanwhile others argue that it is totally wrong. In the dialogue from Plato’s The Euthyphro, Euthyphro tries to explain his view on good and bad to Socrates through pietism. He explains that he is doing the right thing to prosecute his father for murder because it is the right thing to do and not doing so would be a sin. Socrates uses a method of asking questions to see what Euthyphro’s general definition of right or wrong is. He explains what he thinks by saying that “whatever all the gods hate is sinful, and whatever all the gods love is holy”. This shows that good and bad are determined by what people believe is justified through their own opinions.

Good and bad can also be determined through the culture in which one lives. Cultural relativism is the beliefs, values, and practices of a group of people, and their own cultural environment. Every society has its own set of moral codes that determines what is seen as good and bad in their particular society. These moral codes have been passed down as traditions or practices and help people keep an open mind on the differences seen from one culture to another. Many people can become very judgmental by comparing their own cultural beliefs on what they see as good or bad to the beliefs of another culture. We as people should be more understanding of what other societies believe even though we don’t always feel the need to tolerate them. Even though every society has its own moral codes there are still some values that all societies share such as honesty, freedom, and equal rights.

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In Rachels's article The Challenge of Cultural Relativism, she used many examples to show how culture can differ from one society to another and how it can affect their view on good and bad. In one example she talked about a 17-year-old girl that fled her country to escape a practice known as excision or genital mutilation. This practice is used to signal a girl’s acceptance into adulthood and is performed in 26 African nations. The view of what is good and bad in this example differs based on the moral codes of every society. Many things can be said against this particular practice. These societies believe that they are doing the right thing by showing that excision is beneficial, but many other societies can view it as being bad because there can be many physical and mental consequences that can affect this young girl in the future. Cultural Relativism may cause many controversies on what is good or bad because everyone will draw their own conclusion based on what they believe.

There are many factors people use when they try to figure out if something is right or wrong. In my opinion, I believe there could be some things that are really right or wrong without having to put in many of these factors, but it is hard to find what they are. We as human beings tend to use our opinions, beliefs, values, and cultural environment to explain what we consider is right or wrong. Many things can be justified as being right or wrong by following a set of rules or a certain religion. For example, killing someone can be seen as a sinful or very wrong thing to do in some societies but in others, they might think it's ok to kill someone that deserves to be killed depending on what they have done. In other cases, most people would just say something is completely right or wrong without discussing it because they believe it is what god believes. Even the gods can disagree on certain situations, one god might see one thing as being right while another might think it’s totally wrong. These views of goodness can be defended through ethical and moral codes. Everyone has the right to believe what they want, and others should be more considerate instead of judgmental. In my opinion, good and bad will always have a different definition in every case and be justified based on rules and opinions. Many others will defend the view of goodness through religion and what they believe characterizes them as doing what is right in god’s eyes.

In conclusion, can anyone really say there is a justifiable or true existence of what is seen as good or bad? Many can say there is such a thing as right or wrong but people in everyday life use their own opinions, values, beliefs, and even religious thought to help them decide what they believe is good or bad. There will always be some type of argument over any situation that can be either good to one person or bad to another.

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Good Vs Bad: Plato’s The Euthyphro and Cultural Relativism. (2023, July 11). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 30, 2023, from
“Good Vs Bad: Plato’s The Euthyphro and Cultural Relativism.” Edubirdie, 11 Jul. 2023,
Good Vs Bad: Plato’s The Euthyphro and Cultural Relativism. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Nov. 2023].
Good Vs Bad: Plato’s The Euthyphro and Cultural Relativism [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Jul 11 [cited 2023 Nov 30]. Available from:
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