Moral Relativism and Absolutism

Moral Relativism and Absolutism

  • Submitted By: fdonald
  • Date Submitted: 09/24/2010 5:58 PM
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Words: 1543
  • Page: 7
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Moral Relativism and Absolutism
Morality is the glue that holds society together. It dictates our actions, beliefs and behaviours in order to promote harmony. In a sense it defines and separates the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ 4. However, it should not be confused with the law’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Although related, they are not the same concept.

The law is absolute in nature. It states: “One must do this” or “One must not do that”. Morality could be treated the same way – an absolute, unswayable concept universally true that defines ‘good’ and ‘evil’ 2. This is called Moral Absolutism.

By saying that there is only one system to follow, it stipulates that there is only one moral road to the path of ‘goodness’. All other moral systems different to that ‘road’, including but not limited to: other cultures, religions, place and time of nurture and belief systems, can be compared ‘morally’ to this absolute system 2. Yet with the obvious disparity between numerous moral systems, one cannot be claimed the absolute ‘victor’. Surely, the fact that there are thoughtful and considerate people in all systems strengthens this ‘argument from disagreement’ 2. Thus, it raises the point that moral constructs are opinionated and not absolute in nature, but relative.

Relativists thus believe that morality is relative to one’s culture. It postulates that we still must tolerate those who we ‘morally’ disagree with. To do otherwise is intolerant, and since ‘tolerance’ is deemed to be ‘morally good’, we should not hold the belief that moral systems other than ours are mistaken2. Thus, moral relativism should be accepted. However, this ‘argument from tolerance’ assumes that being tolerant is being morally good. Yet surely, since there are no moral absolutes, a moral relativist cannot say that being ‘tolerant’ is morally good. The argument is self-refuting3.

Moral relativism by its very nature cuts its own throat. A relativist cannot impose their ideals on a non-relativist, as...

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