Inquiries 5


For inquiry 2 select one of the cases (a, c or d) to respond.

2. In each of the following cases, the behavior  illustrated seems to suggest that the people’s values differ  significantly from our own.  Consider the possibility that, beneath  appearances, the values are similar.  Develop a plausible explanation  for the difference in behavior.

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a. In one culture, the elderly and those with severe handicaps are  put to death.  It would appear that this culture does not recognize  human dignity as a value.

c. Members of a tribe living in a remote jungle area commonly shun  the sick.  The moment members of the tribe become seriously ill, they  cease to exist in the tribe’s view.  They must leave the village and  care for themselves.  If they recover, however, they are restored to  tribal membership.  Apparently, the tribe lacks compassion for the  afflicted.

d. A group of young boys are gathered together.  Several men approach  them, brandishing sticks and whips.  They beat the boys viciously. The  other male members of the tribe sit by and watch, laughing and obviously  enjoying the event.  It would seem that the men of this culture are  sadistic, deriving pleasure from seeing others in pain.


Answer either inquiry 3 or 12.  If you choose to answer Inquiry 12 select only one of the experiences (a or c).

3. When Hua, a Chinese woman, gave birth to a  daughter rather than a son, her husband refused to look at the child.   Later he punished his wife for the “offense” by withholding money and  hitting her without provocation.  When the child contracted pneumonia,  he suggested she be left to die.  Eventually, he divorced his wife —  the decree cited his disapproval of having a baby girl and specified  that the wife would keep the child and he would get the apartment.

This story is not that uncommon in China,  where masculinity is  defined as producing a son to maintain the family line.  This cultural  value is so ancient and so strong that it is even reflected in the  language  — the character for the word good is a combination of the sign for “woman” and the sign for “son”. Evaluate this cultural value.

12. When a Christian missionary is sent to preach  the Gospel to members of a newly discovered tribe, she has the following  experiences:

a. After arriving in their primative jungle settlement and  establishing a friendly relationship with them, she learns that they  encourage extra-marital promiscuity.  She believes that this is morally  wrong. She therefore explains to them that such promiscuity is immoral  and an offense against God.  Is the missionary’s action ethical?

c. The missionary now makes an even more startling discovery.   Because tribe members  believe women are inferior to men and a tribe  with a large number of women is an outrage to the god of good sense,  they strictly control the female population.  Whenever the number of  girl babies exceeds the percentage approved by the wise men of the  tribe, they permit no more girls babies born that year to live.   More  specifically, they take newborn babies out into the wilderness to die.   The missionary tries to persuade them that such behavior is wrong.  Is  this action justifiable?

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