Jesse Prinz is a man who defends moral relativism as opposed to moral objectivism. To be able to understand the argument between moral relativism and moral objectivism they must first be defined. Moral relativism is a claim that is only true or false relative to some variable and not absolutely. This variable could be things such as culture, place, or society. This means two different truths that contradict each other could both be considered true depending on the culture. Moral objectivism is a claim that is either true or false absolutely. This means no matter the time, place, or culture there is one certain moral truth. This makes answering moral questions easier because there is a moral fact that is the correct answer. I will go into detail and explain why Prinz defends moral relativism. Because I do not think Prinz gives a strong argument, I will then criticize Prinz’s argument, giving reasons why moral objectivism is the more logical of the two because it gives us one correct answer based off of a universal standard.
This paper explores the things that have influenced my moral worldview. It includes insight on what I consider when making decisions. I discuss who and what I look too when deciding my morals and what I consider to be right and wrong.
As the weed of secularization continues to spread its roots through the belly of western civilization, its critical that Christians properly discern its damaging effects on our society’s sexual moral compass. As a culture, it seems what is acceptable changes every few months with little reasoning or clear logic. Confused, disoriented, and unable to draw a straight line between wrong and right, our culture’s moral compass is spinning. We are drifting off to sea in a ship commanded by drunk captain, name Moral Relativism.
In a world of over seven billion people, it is not always easy to decide on what is moral right or wrong. Ethicists attempt to answer this by examining practices among people of different beliefs, cultures, and ideas to come up with the moral reasoning behind them. Of course, this in itself is difficult because it is often unclear and there is a fine line as to how far we should push the boundary. Both ethical relativism and moral absolutism are used to answer difficult questions posed by cultural pluralism.
Pope Benedict once said, “We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” When discussing the idea of Moral Relativism there are conflicting arguments as to if it is true in society or not. As much as Americans wish to ignore it, and although it has negative as well as positive effects, moral relativism is apparent all over the world. Moral Relativism is true and relevant today through individuals and cultures.
The ethical relativism theory is that morality refers to the norms of a culture. This means that whether an action is right or wrong is dependent on the moral norms of the society it is practiced in. The same action may be morally right in one society, but morally wrong in a different one.
Louis Vaughn states that the purpose of morality is not to describe how things are, but to “prescribe how things should be” (2). In Philosophy, moral relativism and moral objectivism are two conflicting but somewhat overlapping school of thought. These beliefs govern the way an individual acts; they also decide the ethical guidelines from which the law is written. In this essay we will delineate the differences between the two sects of belief.
Over the last several decades, long established taboo, including the right to abortion, the right to death, and LGBTQIA+ rights have become much more acceptable throughout the United States. Consequently, it seems like basic moral norms are up to the interpretation of current and societal ideals. Moral relativism is the belief that the concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ exist only by comparison to a society’s moral code. It is an enticing moral theory in a world where so little seems absolute. Paul Boghossian, author of “The Maze of Moral Relativism” too believes that this idea of relativism is gaining popularity and importance in contemporary culture. However, he not only believes that moral relativism is not true, but an illogical or ‘incoherent’ moral theory. Moral relativism, he claims, cannot exist because there is no middle ground between ‘moral absolutism,’ the idea that moral facts are true across all cultures and time, and ‘moral nihilism,’ the rejection of all morality as people understand it, including the ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ Boghossian’s argument is able to logically destroy moral relativism, leaving little option other than to accept that absolute morality exists somewhere.
Cultural Relativism is an important ethical theory and James Rachels’ argument is significant to provide evidence to prove and disprove the idea. It is important to call attention to and understand differences between cultures. Tolerance is also an valid concept when arguing Cultural Relativism. Regardless of the outcome or viewpoint of the argument it is significant in the fact that it raises awareness for tolerance and differences between cultures and that no culture is more superior or more correct in relation to another. The theory of Cultural Relativism is the idea that each and every culture has it’s own moral code, and if this is true, there is no universal, ethical truth that every culture must abide by. A universal truth being one that is true in all situations, at all times, and in all places. It proposes that a person’s actions should be understood and judged only by those within the terms of their culture. It is an idea of tolerance and open mindedness to cultures who are not our own. In the article, The Challenge of Cultural Relativism, James Rachels discusses important themes and arguments in concurrence with his own argument against Cultural Relativism. I will argue that Cultural Relativism is challenged by James Rachels argument but not disproved.
Moral Relativism is generally used to describe the differences among various cultures that influence their morality and ethics. According to James Rachels, because of moral relativism there typically is no right and wrong and briefly states : “Different cultures have different moral codes.” (Rachels, 18) Various cultures perceive right and wrong differently. What is considered right in one society could be considered wrong in another, but altogether all cultures have some values in common.
I would disagree with your statement that moral absolutism with exceptions is moral relativism. Moral relativism in the individual sense leads to everyone being their own moral compass to guide them, which would lead to chaos. It is not base on any absolute morals except freedom. Cultural moral relativism is what you are describing in your reply post, but it does not take into account the fact that there are morals which are common in all cultures. How can there be moral absolutes like mass murder is wrong, but have moral relativism as the standard? Would is stand to reason if there are moral absolutes, then moral absolutism exists?
Moral Absolutism is concerned with right and wrong behavior. The absolute is what controls whether the action or behavior is right or wrong. Therefore, from the position of moral absolute, some things are always right and some things are always wrong no matter how one try to rationalize them. Moral absolutism materializes from a theistic worldview. Ethical Absolutists can condemn practices such as the Nazi harassment of the Jews because Absolutist views give definite guidelines as to what is right and wrong.
When people hear the term “ethics,” most of their minds turn to dilemmas discussed by figures such as Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham, Aristotle, and other famous philosophers. These men debated what is considered to be morally good and how a person can become ethical. Operating under normative ethics, these philosophers did not question whether or not ethics even existed, but rather if they exist, what are they? The branch of ethics that questions the foundation of ethics and morality is metaethics. There are three standpoints when debating metaethics: moral realism, moral relativism, and moral skepticism. I will be discussing my argument for moral realism and contend that moral relativism and skepticism are inaccurate. I will prove the
Jeremy Bentham is a teleological/consequential philosopher or consequentialist, one who focuses on the consequences and ends instead of intention and actions. Bentham’s focus carries more weight than that of Immanuel Kant or John Stuart Mill and their views. Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy focuses on measuring pain and pleasure for the greatest number of morally significant beings through their actions. Bentham presents guidelines that measure the intensity, duration, (un) certainty, propinquity, fecundity, and extent of the pain and pleasure that a certain action beholds and uses these measurements to determine if the action promotes the greatest good (being pleasure in Bentham’s case) for the greatest number of morally significant beings (Hoff 2017).
In philosophy there are many theories that philosophers argue, James Rachels argues the main points of moral relativism, where he describes the differences within cultures. Philosophers attempt to prove their theories to be true, but it can be complicated because if someone proves one premise false of your argument then the entire argument is invalid. There are different types of relativisms that favor moral relativism, such as, personal belief relativism, societal belief relativism, and then there is the cultural beliefs argument. All of these topics of relativism fall into the same category as moral relativism, meaning they all have the same general statement. Which is one cannot declare what is morally right or morally wrong. Moral relativism is the umbrella term and the others are points that can affect it. Moral Relativism claims that there is no objective truth concerning morality, therefore no one can draw a line between what is right or wrong.