Ethical perspectives defined, including examples and comparison:

Relativism: According to Kurt Mosser (2013), “Relativism is the idea that one’s beliefs and values are understood in terms of one’s society, culture, or even one’s own individual values” (“Alternative Perspectives,” para. 3), meaning that universal morals are non-existent, one’s morals (ideas of right and wrong) adhere to the norm of their society. This theory concludes that though various cultures do have different beliefs, they are to be equal. An example of relativism would be the Islamic religion founded on a unique basis of morals. As said by Stacey (2009), in accordance the moral boundaries within their culture, Muslim women wear an outfit called Hijab. Loose fitting, and containing a veil, the Hijab is to hide the lady’s body, therefore allowing others to focus on her mind. It is also a Middle Eastern custom for women to walk behind their men.

Emotivism: This theory diminishes the need to justify morals with statistical evidence or facts, “Emotivism, instead, sees our moral evaluations as simply the expression of whether we respond to a given act by liking it or not liking it (Mosser, 2013, “Alternative Perspectives,” para. 11). This form of reaction is one’s opinion of whether they like or dislike a particular behavior based on their personal beliefs, it can be used to try to sway the behavior of others. An example of emotivism would be someone saying that they disagree with divorce.

Ethical Egoism: Ethical Egoism is described as “Something that promotes what I want is regarded as right; something that interferes with what I want, or prevents me from reaching my goals, is regarded as wrong” (Mosser, 2013, “Alternative Perspectives,” para. 22), meaning it is one’s moral responsibility to fulfill their own desires. Ethical Egoism differs from selfishness as one puts themselves first, but they still can see past themselves. An example on ethical egoism would be deciding to go to the mall later instead of helping my friend’s mom work on her new house.

Ethical theory and ethical perspective differs. Ethical theory attempts to logically explain something that is unknown, while moral perspective involves the standpoint of an individual. One’s ethical perspective is a product of their culture, society, and individual values influenced by personal experiences.

An issue in my community: During the past year, the residents of my city (Flint, MI) have been suffering from toxic amounts of lead because of deteriorating metal pipes that carry our water supply. Not only had public officials known this problem would occur, but once it did, they falsified lead reports and tried to cover up the incident. Throughout the process, citizens have been unable to voice an opinion per city council. Despite contaminated drinking water, residents are forced to pay an increased monthly bill for a necessary resource that can’t be used to shower, cook, or drink. Failure to provide payment results in placing a lien on the taxpayer’s property. Bottled water previously delivered to residents is due to end. The empty water bottles are generating pollution as the city lacks sufficient recycling centers. Flint residents are showing emotivism through their outrage towards the disaster. Community officials practiced ethical egoism as they were more concerned with lining their pockets than ensuring the health and safety of Flint residents.


Mosser, K. (2013). Ethics and social responsibility (2nd ed.) [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

Stacey, A. (2009, November). Why Muslim women wear the veil. The Religion of Islam. Retrieved from