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What is meant by relativism, and explain the strengths and weaknesses of the point of view compared with absolutism.

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  • Essay length: 1092 words
  • Submitted: 28/01/2005
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GCSE Ethics

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What is meant by relativism, and explain the strengths and weaknesses of the point of view compared with absolutism.

Relativism is a fairly modern perspective of ethics, although Greek philosophers dabbled in it. It follows the belief that nothing is intrinsically right or wrong, thus each situation that we encounter merits a decision on the morality of our actions, for the actions in themselves are not morally right or wrong. The determinants of morality in relativism are far more complex. A relativist would argue that to judge the morality of actions in any given situation, we must look into the culture of those involved, we must look at the people involved, what they believe is right and wrong, and so-forth. Relativists believe that we can only know what is right or wrong by relating a given situation to others.

Protagoras of Abdera was one of several fifth century Greek thinkers, collectively known as the Older Sophists, a group of travelling teachers or intellectuals who were experts in rhetoric and related subjects. He stated that objective knowledge is a farce, and that the perceptions of the persons involved are the only way to delve into the morality of a

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