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Absolutism is a more useful tool to make moral decisions than relativism. Discuss.

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Michael Hahn (1.43) Absolutism is a more useful tool to make moral decisions than relativism. Discuss. "Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me." Immanuel Kant comments on just how difficult it is to define how someone makes a moral decision. He compares it to the galaxy, saying that we know very little about either and both are extremely hard to predict. Making a moral decision about whether something is right or wrong can be extremely difficult to do. There are many different things to consider when making decisions, for example why someone did something and the consequences it had. We have to have some sort of "moral code" to help us decide whether something is right or wrong. So how do we do it? Some people believe that something is always definitely right or wrong; regardless of the situation- they have a definite view on whether something is morally right or wrong. This is called absolutism. An absolutist thinks that their opinion is correct universally and therefore applies to every similar situation in any location and at any time. A good example of absolutism is the Roman Catholic Church who have very strict views about things such as abortion- saying that it is always morally wrong regardless of the circumstances. ...read more.


Most people have some intrinsically absolutist views: cruelty to children is always wrong. However, Absolutism doesn't consider different circumstances and cultural norms. Someone could say that killing is always wrong, but what if it was self defence? This would make no difference to an absolutist who would still see it as wrong. Furthermore, it's also very hard to decide on a definite set of morals that are universally acceptable. It also doesn't take into account the consequences of an action (Deontological). Likewise, Relativism has both strengths and weaknesses. Firstly, it is much more flexible than Absolutism. It can fit alot more situations as it takes everything into account. Therefore this is arguably more reliable than Absolutism as it is more specific uses more evidence. However, the judgements are always made depending on how someone feels about a matter (subjectivism). If someone has had a bad experience of something in the past, they will feel negatively towards it and therefore their judgements can be easily influenced. There are no guidelines so making a decision can sometimes be very hard. Because of this, everyone will have different opinions and therefore there is no way to make anything universally correct. It is also far more difficult to apply to a situation that absolutism as there are no set rules. ...read more.


An absolutist could say that she should definitely not be allowed to have an abortion, as it is always wrong. However, the girl was actually raped by her school friend's dad. Absolutists would not have taken this into account, however Relativists would have looked at this and realised that it was not the girl's fault she fell pregnant- a fact which would almost certainly change the judgement. Sometimes, the absolutist and the relativist views can come up with the same Judgement. Recently in the news, we have heard a lot about the cruel death of "Baby P" by his step father and step uncle. His mother was not actually involved in the crime, but watched and did nothing to protect her son. Both absolutists and relativists would say that this is morally wrong as child abuse is both objectively and subjectively wrong. Both absolutism and relativism are valid ways of reaching a moral judgement. Absolutism is very easy to apply to any situation and provides a strict "code" for moral judgements. On the other hand, Relativism is very flexible and can be used in a great number of situations; it can also give very reliable judgements as it takes the situation into account rather than just the action. However, I would have to conclude that I think Relativism is the more useful tool for making moral judgements. It takes everything into account and therefore would give a more reliable and credible judgement. ...read more.

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