Explain the difference between Absolute and Relative Morality

Authors Avatar by matthewjlongstaff (student)

Explain the difference between relative and absolute morality

Absolute morality is that something is always good or bad, there are no grey areas. An example of this is "stealing is always wrong, whatever the circumstances." Relative morality is when there are things that are good and bad, but it depends on the situation whether it was the right thing to do or not. An example of this is "stealing is wrong, but if a mother was stealing to feed her family and there was no-where else the money could come from, then it would be understandable and she shouldn't be punished too much, compared to people that steal alcohol."

A problem arises when one tries to define exactly what morals are. After all, by explicitly defining what you believe is moral and immoral; you are deciding for yourself whether someone else is moral or immoral, according to your choices. I could declare that eating broccoli is immoral and that you are immoral if you eat broccoli. You wouldn't have any choice in the matter. This is hardly a useful method of determining morality.

Join now!

This, in essence, is the problem with the belief in absolute morality. If one believes that there is a global set of absolute morals which everyone must follow, then the immediate questions arise: what are those morals, and how do we know? Since no religion in history has every agreed on a set of absolute morals, and even members of the same religion often disagree as well, we think that the concept of absolute morality is useless. Since anyone could declare that their particular moral beliefs are absolute (and many do), and no one can demonstrate the validity of those ...

This is a preview of the whole essay