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

Explain what is meant by 'moral relativism'

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

a) Explain what is meant by 'moral relativism' Before we can discuss this question in more depth, we must simply give a definition for moral relativism. Moral relativism is a theory, especially in ethics, that conceptions of truth and moral values are not absolute but are relative to the persons or groups holding them. From this definition I can go on to further discuss moral relativism and briefly explain what is meant by the opposed view of relativism as well as other terms related to moral relativism. Moral relativism is the belief that morality does not relate to any absolute principles of right and wrong, but that 'good' and 'bad' are dependant on culture and circumstance. The opposite of moral relativism is absolutism. Absolutism declares that there are universal standards of right and wrong, whether or not they are agreed with by people, and independent of individual circumstances. According to an absolutist such as Immanuel Kant, if moral rules are right then they should apply to everyone, without making any exceptions for different people or special circumstances as the laws should be 'universalisable'. ...read more.

Middle

We therefore cannot try to enforce ways in which societies live, for example, if one civilization believes that elderly relatives should spend their last few years being cared for in a nursing home, whilst another culture may disagree and say it is the families duty to care for their elderly relatives, then they could both be right in their own ways, according to their own social codes. Some moral relativists believe there is no valid way of proving whether one belief is right or one belief is wrong as everyone has different moral beliefs, however they do know that even if we cannot know certain types of behaviour are wrong, all the same it is justifiable to make laws for the protection of humanity, and to penalize those people who chose to go against this 'social contract'. The definition of 'good' is then said to be no more than 'what which is socially acceptable'. However, something could be right in one circumstance, but wrong in the other. For example, lying might be considered right if it was done in order to get a good result, like misleading an enemy in order to save lives. ...read more.

Conclusion

By letting Charlotte suffer for longer, this could be seen as the doctors hurting her. However, the situation ethics theory is no accepted by everyone. It has been rejected by some Christian Churches, most notably the Roman Catholic Church. To conclude, a general summary of what has been said about moral relativism is that there are some things which are usually right or wrong, but nothing which is absolutely so, because there is always the possibility of circumstances which call for exceptions to be made. In addition, judgements about other people's morality can be justified but never absolutely. However we must also remember that in ethical terms, to maintain that some things are right and other things are wrong, and that these things are fixed for all time and all people, is called absolutism and is the opposite to moral relativism. Reviewing situation ethics, we know that the two extremes of antinomianism cannot work, so therefore the overriding moral principle of decision-making is love (agape) and nothing else. A key aspect of situation ethics is thus to use the best loving method to help someone in their particular situation. ...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. Explain the difference between moral relativism and cultural relativism

    For example if someone needed to feed their children but couldn't afford to do so and the only means of feeding them was to steal and this would result in feeding their children then it would be seen as consequentialist.

  2. Critically examine what is meant by natural moral law.

    An example could be a bomb that's about to explode. Does one torture the terrorist captured to save the lives of a whole community or stand by the premise of the rule not to torture? Torturing the terrorist is an example of an apparent good or a secondary ideal (a

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

    could be classes as blasphemes. However, another Christian denomination, the Church of England (Anglican church) would take a relativistic view on abortion. They would acknowledge that the foetus has the potential for life but would also look at the situation.

  2. Absolutism and Relativism

    to them to decided whether they think murder is right or wrong, and if they think it is right, that would mean that society would have people going around murdering people because they thought that it would be ok for them to do so.

  1. Explain what is meant by Moral Relativism

    off his hat as a sign or respect, the same would occur if a Christian walked into a mosque, he would respect their beliefs and remove his shoes and cover part of his head. Cultural relativism is the recognition that ones patterns behaviour is not absolute and one should therefore

  2. "Humanitarian intervention, which is ruled out by realism and the morality of states, can ...

    But there is no agreement on what is justice or oppression, and therefore no agreement on whether humanitarian intervention can be justified. Because of this humanitarian intervention would be likely to undermine the world order. It is viewed as a new form of imperialism which constitutes a threat to world order.

  1. The Ethical Debate Concerning Cloning.

    It is said that quality of life is more important than quantity of life and that therefore in terminal illnesses patients should not be kept going beyond a reasonable point. At the other end of the human life spectrum, in prenatal or reproductive medicine, it is contended that a defective fetus should be ended by pre-emptive abortion.

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

    These people may believe relativism gives them a convincing reason to be good: they are good because they do what they believe to be the right thing, and this means that they never do the wrong thing. Another reason why relativism provides us with a reason to be good is

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