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Explain what is meant by Moral Relativism

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Explain what is meant by Moral Relativism Moral relativism is the belief that morality does not relate to any absolute standards of morality to which everyone should comply with. It believes there are circumstances and situations in which actions or behaviour, that is usually considered to be 'wrong', can be considered 'right'. Many of these circumstances are to do with religion and cultures, traditions are frowned upon by outsiders but are acceptable to those within the culture, moral relativism respects their views and beliefs. Moral relativism is the opposite of absolutism. Absolutism believes that there are right and wrong rules which apply to all people all the time. It also believes that an immoral act is intrinsically wrong; it is not made wrong because of its situation or results. An absolutist would not look at a situation from ones perspective; they would look at it objectively and not take into account the consequences. It is deontological as they believe it is ones duty to act in that specific way. Directly opposing absolutism, Fletcher says that no actions in themselves are wrong it is their results that make them wrong and it is love that decides the good from the bad. ...read more.


This section of moral relativism is moving away from religious absolutism and believes that people can choose their own codes of behaviour as long as they keep within the boundaries of the laws and society, for instance not go around behaving in a threatening way. An important philosopher in the understanding of moral relativism is J.L.Mackie. He maintains that, values, the good, the righteousness and wrongness, are not art of the fabric of our world. They do not exist. He sees the existence of diverse ethical values expressed in different times and cultures as evidence that no moral absolute exists. He argues that our moral beliefs do not seem to shape the societies we live in; it is the other way around, where our morality is shaped because of out society. What is good is what is socially acceptable. Moral relativists do not always have the same view; this is due to them coming from different backgrounds and cultures. What is right and wrong differs from culture to culture but also from time to time, for example in the English past it was believed that homosexuality was unacceptable and homosexual relations were 'wrong' whereas is modern society there are few objections to homosexuals. ...read more.


The final outcome would be to take the action which results in the most loving solution. There are many criticisms of moral relativism; one is that it could be argued that there are aspects of absolutism within the philosophy, for instance: one must not judge another person's morality against one's own, one must tolerate other beliefs and it is absolutely wrong to believe one's beliefs are absolute and universal. This is therefore contradicting the whole foundation of relativism and the ability to choose. Would it not also make more sense to have an absolute standard of right and wrong? It would be simpler to determine whether someone's actions are acceptable or not. These questions remain unanswered today. Absolutism would be able to clear away these arguments by providing fixed ethical codes by which all actions are measured. The world would be able to live under the same set of rules and there would be clear guidelines of behaviour. However to conclude, circumstance of a decision are very important and so the absolute rules should be taken into account and used as a vague guideline when making a relativist decision. : ?? ?? ?? ?? Anita McCulloch 12.4 ethics Ms Hilton ...read more.

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