• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Expalin the concept of Moral Relativism

Extracts from this document...


Moral Relativism Essay A. Moral Relativism is a philosophical school of thought, it states that there is no moral or universal truths regarding whether or not something is morally or ethically acceptable. Instead it claims that one must take into account: cultural; social; historical and personal circumstances. Different people have different moral codes and therefore what is morally right and wrong to them is entirely subjective. For instance King Darius observed that while one tribe of Greeks burnt the bodies of their fathers upon death, another tribe of called the Callations ate the bodies of their fathers. Darius asked how much he would have to pay the tribes to adopt each others practices and both were outraged by the proposal and the practice of the other tribe. What was morally acceptable for one tribe was not for the other; both were right because one tribe's opinion could not be more valid than the others. The Greek philosopher Protagoras said "there's no truth in anything beyond what it seems," meaning that all knowledge depends on ones perceptions of information. In short there can be no absolute moral principles. An example of a relativist theory is situation ethics. Joseph Fletcher an American priest was the man to first develop this theory in 1966 when he published his book "situation ethics." ...read more.


Thirdly, positivism is the belief that reason works within faith therefore people should act reasonably depending on their faith. Finally one must use personalism; one must put people first and do what will help human best. With these things established Fletcher then established the main theory. Namely that, only love is good in itself, actions cant be intrinsically good or evil they're good or evil depending on whether they do the most loving thing their circumstances and their consequences. Laws can be broken by love there is no law that can equal love it replaces law when needed. Love and justice are the same they can't be separated from each other. Fletcher writes about this in his book, he says that "Justice is Christian love using its head; justice is love coping with situations where distribution is called for." The love that situation ethics is concerned with is agape it is a desire for the good of another person, not just those we like but everyone it is unconditional. Actions become moral depending on their end therefore to consider a moral action without considering its end is foolish. When thinking on a moral dilemma one must consider the desired end, the means to the end, the motive and consequences of those means and end. ...read more.


Another thing is that because it is subjective decisions must be made within the situation. But how can people be sure that their perception of the situation is the right one how can individuals safely decide which is the most loving action? Surely to do this one must have an unobjective view of the situation, because we don't have this it is more then plausible that people will make unloving decisions because of their bias. It is also almost impossible to perceive all consequences of a possible action which could be said to show the theory as unworkable. As situation ethics is individualistic there's surely a danger that the course that will best serve love will be obscured by the tendency of humans to be selfish, the truth is that Agape is an unreasonable ideal how likely is it that a woman will do as much to help a complete stranger as their husbands or help a stranger if it inconveniences themselves and their partner even if it is the most loving action. Finally it appears that situation ethics appears to accept actions as long as people believe it is the most loving action. Surely after the acts that human kind has seen and done, most people surely have a sense that some things that are just wrong and can never be right. This theory could justify actions that many regard as totally wrong. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

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

    The key example of absolutism in the case of abortion is the Roman Catholic Church. "The Roman Catholic teaches that life must be safeguarded with the utmost care from the moment of contraception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes" (David Smith).

  2. Explain the difference between moral relativism and cultural relativism

    This is where individuals create the meaning and essence of their lives and thus could cause anarchic consequences. Relativist theories always require people to make their own decisions. Although this would not be a problem for the majority some people would be especially prone to make wrong decisions that could result in disastrous consequences.

  1. "It is impossible to reconcile any kind of determinism with the concept of freewill." ...

    We contrast this flexible, conscious control that we enjoy with the involuntary action of, say, our heartbeat or digestion, and with the instinctual imperative of a bird's nest-building or a dog's conditioned response. Our decisions are far more independent of nature and nurture than any animals; we are aware of

  2. Examine and comment on Christian beliefs about homosexuality

    orientation and recognizes the considerable numbers that have to go through the ordeal of life with various kinds of discrimination. (Ethical Studies Second Edition, Robert Bowie, 2004) Kate Saunders and Peter Stamford wrote 'Catholics and Sex' in1992. This shows views from the Catholic cardinals and at the time one of

  1. Natural Moral Law - in theory and in practice.

    provided guidance of ?the 7 Deadly sins? which should be avoided because they will take humans away from God. As he said ?to disparage the dictate or reason is equivalent to condemning the command of God.? These included; pride, avarice (greed and jealously), lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth.

  2. Explain the differences between Cultural Relativism and Cultural Absolutism

    Tribe in Uganda, were studied in a report by Turnbull and he was ?shocked? by the way they have had to adapt for survival, he says they have little empathy for each other and will not share food with the weak or elderly.

  1. Explain the differences between absolute and relative morality. 'Relativist theories give no convincing reason ...

    the absolute rules in the Bible, including the Ten Commandments, in order to get in to heaven to be with God. The aim is clear: follow this clear, absolute and unchanging theory of morality and you will be rewarded. But relativism is a lot less clear.

  2. Explain Moral Relativism

    We make it happen. Reality isn't separate from us. We are creating our reality every moment of the day. For me that truth is the ultimate freedom and the ultimate responsibility?. Morality is personal preference, like taste, as the adage goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is morality in the eye of the individual.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work