Absolutism And Relativism.
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Absolutism And Relativism Absolutism is to maintain that some things are right and other things are wrong, and that these things are fixed for all time, in all situations and for all people. This is also known as hard universalism - it denies plural morality and insists there is only one universal moral code. Moral rules are a priori, meaning that moral laws can be found without experience because they are inherently right, without taking account of the outcome, circumstance, culture or opinion. For example, in Christianity the Ten Commandments guide the way to knowing what one should not do: "Do not murder", "Do not steal", "Do not bear false witness" etc. An example of an ethical absolutist is St Thomas Aquinas, who believed in a fixed divine law (Natural Moral Law). Aquinas' basic law of natural moral law: "...that good is to be done and pursued, and evil is to be avoided..." which expresses an absolutist perspective. Another absolutist, Plato, argued that goodness, the highest form of reality, was an absolute thing that existed eternally and beyond this world, occupied by forms or ideas, which are the true reality. For example, a beautiful picture had "form beauty" in it; without form beauty there would be no beautiful things. In other words, without forms there is no reality. Strengths And Weaknesses Of Absolutism Absolutism provides a fixed ethical code to measure actions. For example, an ethical absolutist can disapprove of Hitler's extremist political regime, Nazi Germany or the wife-beater ("you must never beat your wife and this remains true all the time").
For example, long-ago, it was usual to abandon highwaymen in hanging cages to starve and decay. Nowadays, that type of chastisement is deemed to be morally unacceptable. History has also shown that women, for example, were not given the same property rights as men and they were prohibited from voting. The situation today is quite different. Justice has been served and many countries give men and women equal status, such as in the United Kingdom. Strengths And Weaknesses Of Relativism Relativism explains the existence of the different values that people hold. In other words, it prohibits a dominant culture from enforcing itself over others simply because "we're right and they're wrong". In other words, it suits the multicultural nature of the world, because it gives equal measure to the various cultural and religious alliances (groupings). If you believe that there is a single objective morality then you will believe that many communities and cultures are wrong. On the contrary, who are you to say that whole civilisations which have developed over hundreds of years, are wrong? Furthermore, in this day and age societies have to live together, and this will not be achieved if they disrespect eachother's beliefs about goodness and badness. Hence if we want to live in peace in a world where different ways of life coexist, then we should abstain from accusing other cultures of being mistaken about what is right. Hence it makes it easy to tolerate the different moral beliefs of people in other societies.
It seems relativists exaggerate the differences between one culture and another. Relativists do, however, adopt an absolute principle: "Be tolerant of everyone's different moral codes". Additionally, relativism continues to be popular because it has been incorporated into situation ethics, because the loving thing to do will depend on the situation, and as no two situations are ever exactly alike, different courses of action might be right in some circumstances but wrong in others, and utilitarianism, which describes goodness as more or less with respect to the amount of happiness generated. Linking Absolutism, Relativism, Objectivism And Subjectivism Objective = Not biased; existing in the real world outside the human mind; factual; impartial. Subjective = Based on personal feelings or prejudices. Absolutists hold that some things are wrong from an objective point of view, not just wrong from your or my perspective. The moral way of living is to do things that are objectively good and avoid things that are objectively bad. Things that are right or wrong can't change and they don't depend on the situation. For example, torturing children, rape and murder are always wrong. What is right and wrong for you is the same for me and for every other person in the world. Relativists believe that morals are subjective - subject to the culture, religion, time and place. There is no objective moral truth, or if there is we cannot know it. What is right for one group of people may be wrong for another group of people. For example, certain Greeks burnt the bodies of their fathers, while a different people called Callations ate the bodies of their fathers.
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