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Explain What is Meant By Relativism

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a) Explain what is meant by Relativism People who believe in Absolutism believe that once a rule has been set, nobody is allowed to break this, regardless of the circumstances, and these rules should apply universally. Relativists, however, believe that there are no universally valid moral principles. All beliefs and attitudes are based on the culture you live in or your age, and rules are allowed to be broken depending on the circumstances or the outcome. If a woman were to steal some milk from a supermarket, an Absolutist would arrest her on the spot, because she is breaking the rules, which goes against an Absolutist's beliefs. However, a Relativist would first look at the conditions and situations this woman is in; she may have no money, and no food for her or her child to survive. A Relativist would allow her to get away with it, as it is an attempt to save a life. Protagoras was a philosopher who lived in Greece around 490BCE. He was the measure of all things, and debated that in Ethical Relativism, there is no universal decision on what is right or wrong. ...read more.


One day, around 6BCE, the Greeks discovered other civilisations, which followed different rules and beliefs, according to popular belief. This is when everything became out of control and began to take a drastic change on both the Greeks and other civilisations. As people became more confused about how to live their lives, after discovering different attitudes to living in other civilisations, a group of people named the Sophists appeared. These wise men stated that right and wrong depended on the society they lived in. Their main argument was that people should not worry about what to believe, or what was the universal right in the world, but instead to attempt to become accepted in the public and the world. However, later on, we see that Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all argue that the Sophists' beliefs on how to go through life were completely inaccurate. Although we do not know a lot about Socrates, we know from Plato's teachings that they shared the same beliefs. They argued that you should always question everything in life, rather than accepting them at face value. ...read more.


For this, he put some Jews in a bath, and kept adding ice until they died. Many would see this as barbaric and incorrect, however, this is the same as what the American is doing, and therefore a Relativist would have to stand back and watch, as they could not argue, or 'draw the line' on what is right or wrong. Ethical Relativism uses both the Diversity and Dependency Thesis, which means there are different moral practices in every culture, and it is dependant on the rules of the society the person is in. It has both faults and advantages, and even though it would seem more rational to believe in Relativism, not all places are able to follow it. An example of this was when King Darius of Persia noticed the difference between how the Persians and Greeks dealt with their dead. He suggested that they attempt the swap their cultures. However, the Persian's were not able to bury their dead, or the Greek's eat theirs, as they both believed it was morally wrong. There is only one rule in Relativism; Relativists are Teleological, which means right and wrong depends on the outcome which is gained. This known as Utilitarianism, and the rule is based on making the person happy. ...read more.

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