Against Moral Relativism



Relativism says we must not have absolute moral rules: eg adultery is always wrong.  It claims nothing is wrong as in factually/absolutely immoral and that we should assume morality should be just opinion. But that is an absolute rule after all.  It is always wrong to say morality is more than opinion.  But which opinion or whose opinion? Why not assumption or proof?  Relativism is just totalitarianism or ideology pretending to be tolerance.  Relativism is just immorality and lawlessness under a new name. The name seems to make it look more legitimate and is just a screen. We have no choice but to choose what we see as objective morality even if it is not.   Relativism is fundamentally a lie you tell yourself that you have no objective morality and don't recognise it.  It can only be a slippery slope for lies drag you down and others with you.



Why do we approve of moral acts? Is it because they are factually what we ought to do?


Is approving making them moral? Relativism says yes - belief in objective morality says no.  Objective morality means that no matter if everybody thinks kicking a baby for fun is right or neither right or wrong it is in FACT wrong. 


Moral relativists may say when they call a deliberately bad action evil they personally think it is evil.  But that is talking about an opinion not morality.  The question about if the action is wrong or evil is not about what their moral preference is.  What we want to know is, "Is the deed ITSELF evil."


That gets right to the heart of the matter.


Ronald A. Lindsay - "Morality is neither objective nor subjective—it’s a practical enterprise enmeshed in human relationships. That gives it objectivity enough."
Objective Morality - an action really is wrong. When something is wrong morally, it is absolutely immoral. In other words, it is a moral absolute that it is wrong.
Moral Relativism - nothing is really right or wrong morally. It's all opinions. An opinion is something you have weak reasons to accept. It is close to a guess or an assumption.  Moral relativists invent moral rules and rights and enforce them.  That is why they can be okay with abortion today and against it tomorrow.
Moral Relativism is the denial that there are any moral absolutes. It often takes the form of saying that human rights are made so by being simply commonly agreed by all or the majority. It opposes the notion of human rights being given by God. Many fear that if rights are given by the majority that this relativism tends towards tyranny.


Morality is about principle and is about wondering what is really good or bad. Ethics is about making rules that express these principles. Morality is not up for debate while ethics might be. 


 Moral relativism and ethical relativism are often distinguished.  I have not bothered with the distinction as it is not relevant.  Moral relativism claims that if you murder under xyz circumstances in England that is immoral but in Cuckoo land it is moral to do the exact same thing under the exact same circumstances.  It depends on the culture and relativists go with culture one minute and something else the next so all you have is chaos and the relativist has no problem with changing and swopping.  Ethical relativism is simply the doctrine that everybody has the same fixed moral principles but has different rules to express them.  For example, in Europe you give a woman the right to no-fault divorce to make her equal with men while in another culture you will let her marry a polygamously married man for it means survival for her.  She gets her equality a different way under very difficult circumstances.
To be a relativist you have to subscribe to at least one of the following.
1 The view that what is true is true no matter what anybody thinks must be considered wrong. There is no objective standard of truth. So truth is my truth not the truth.
2 The view that truth is about facts but there are no moral facts. This view says there is an objective standard of truth except in morality.
3 Even if there is a standard we cannot know it. So it is right to invent morality.
4 Even if there is a standard we do not know it. So it is right to invent morality.
5 It does not matter and we should not care. This is relativism in practice.
1 is the strongest form of moral relativism - it says it is moral to say that the moon is a murderer for there is no truth.
2 is the next strongest one.
The last three are about relativism in practice. They do not deny there is an objective standard outright.
Two people can have fundamental moral disagreements but that does not in itself make one of them or both of them relativist. For example, one person may think it is okay to execute child molesters while the other will want them rehabilitated. It can be hard to tell if somebody is a relativist. Relativists can sound like people who think their morality is absolutely true.
Whose will should determine the law? The moral relativists or those who believe in absolute moral values?
Catholics say that as society cannot function if anything goes in morality, the relativists need to use force and form dictatorships to force their rules on those who disagree with them. If they do not want to force any morality, they have to force the critics of relativism to be silent and persecute them with the law. Only the dictators in relativism can and do decide what rules are to be enforced. Totalitarianism is called for.
Moral relativists may force what they see as opinions on people. It makes sense that the absolutist morality believers should use more force. They would be hard to reason with for they say their morality is right and that is that. Moral relativists can and indeed would be expected to be an improvement over the absolutists.




Does relativism say something automatically becomes right when intended to be or mostly intended to be?  Intention does not have the magical power to turn a kick delivered to a dog into a good thing.  Not all relativists regard intention as important.  If a good intention matters then it follows that to intend to feed a baby is objectively good.  It is possible that morality is not doable and if so then all you can do is act with sincere and good intention.  But that is not relativism.  It is only an admission of ignorance.

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