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Explain the differences between relative morality and absolute morality.

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Introduction

Sarah Andrews Explain the differences between relative morality and absolute morality. The word moral [ from the latin word 'mores' meaning customs] is defined in the English dictionary as being 'concerned with right and wrong conduct' and the definition of morality is 'moral principles or rules; goodness or rightness'. The word ethics [ from the greek word 'ethos' ] is defined as meaning 'principles or standards of human conduct - sometimes called morals'. These definitions are what most people would expect but most people do not realise that there are different types of moralism and tend to have their own ideas as to what is morally right. Moral regulation of any kind has been necessary to a societies' well being throughout history. There are two main types of morality theories. Absolute morality is when universal standards of right or wrong apply to all people at all times irrespective of their culture or beliefs. Relative morality is based on the theory that truth and rightness is different for different people or cultures. Some schools of thought believe that morals were formalized into standards of conduct being developed after religious or cultural taboos were violated or when a certain behaviour became a habit. ...read more.

Middle

to promote tolerance of others.Christians, for instance, believe that the Ten Commandments were issued by God [their creator] to remind humankind of their obligations to life and others. Other religions have similar codes on which their faith is based.Unless there is universal belief in one true God there will always be differing opinions of what is right or wrong.Absolutists believe their way is right and could be accused of arrogance. This is illustrated by the work of missionaries that travel to remote cultures to teach them their values. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of moral relativism. Relative morality has had in the past many followers. Supporters of various forms of socialism and non religious groups usually support relativism in some form.An example of this is Marxism, a movement created by a German philosopher called Karl Marx. He argued that morality exists merely to give the ruling classes power. Power to monopolise religion, education. law and morality, allowing them to dictate values to others.Relativists do not believe that any one person should dictate how others conduct their lives. If taken to the extreme this could lead to individuals deciding what is morally right or wrong for themselves. ...read more.

Conclusion

But most social groups are ruled by the few who want the rest to follow their values. In the past this created imbalance in societies, as it does today, giving power to some. When pagen cultures decayed many turned to christianity because it seemed to give moral citizenship to all, even lowly people and slaves. People thought this would rebalance society. Relativism does have some strengths. It teaches tolerance of others who may hold different views, making people examine why different cultures behave as they do and encouraging compromise so that different people of different moral standards can co-exist.Relative morality appears to be more compatible with modern life. Whoever created mankind gave us the intelligence to evolve and adapt which means that moral values will inevitably change.Absolutists would argue that universal morality should exist whatever other changes take place but as long as the common denominator morals remain in place it is impossible to expect individual values to stay the same. Relativism seems to put the responsibility of good moral behaviour with the individual. Whilst we cannot have people behaving exactly how they would like without some consideration for others I think that to make individuals responsible for their own actions is a good moral starting place. ...read more.

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