A) Explain the concept of relativist morality
Relativist morality is an ethical position that rejects absolutism in its belief that there are no universal objective moral values. Relativists believe that values are subjective to different people and societies meaning what may be ethical for some may not be for others.
Cultural relativism says something similar – that moral laws differ in different societies and also through time as societies develop. Because there is so much diversity among different cultures there can be no one morality that fits all, for example in one society, in a different time, it may have been seen as commendable to kill a murderer whereas in another it can be seen as condemnable. We know from history that moral values have changed throughout time – such as slavery. This view follows the dependency thesis – the idea that morality depends on the nature of each individual culture; this includes the time, place and also religion of particular culture.
There are ethical theories that are seen as more relativist than absolute however no ethical theory is complete relativist because all will have at least one absolute principle, even if it’s ‘it is wrong to impose absolute moral laws.’ Bentham’s Act Utilitarianism is an example of an ethical theory which is often seen as more relativist, this is due to the way it applies to ethical dilemmas. This theory judges an action is good or bad by whether its consequences were good or bad (this is a teleological approach) which means each situation is unique and cannot therefore rely on a single objective morality. The Principle of Utility – ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’ us if course the one absolute that act utilitarianism follows because no theory can be without at least one however it allows for flexibility in the judging of an action based on each individual situation which is the foundations of relativist morality.