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Review Article: Raz on the Social Dependence of Values

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Chapter Summary

Joseph Raz's special social dependence thesis (SDT) claims that some values exist only if there are social practices sustaining them. The SDT claims that, all values depend on social practices either by being subject to the special thesis or through their dependence on values that are subject to the special thesis. The author focuses on the special SDT and the values to which it primarily applies, the cultural values. Raz intends SDT to capture an intuitive sense in which cultural and other values depend on contingent social practices without espousing 'social relativism', the view 'that the merit or demerit of actions and other objects of evaluation is relative to the society in which they take place or in which they are judged'. Relativism conflicts with commonsense morality. Raz's explanation of the difference between SDT and relativism appeals to a distinction between the existence of values and their application.

Keywords: cultural values; Joseph Raz; social relativism; special social dependence thesis (SDT)



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