Relativism vs. Absolutism
Relativism: Belief that morals change from
society to society, time period to time
Relativism requires Tolerance; that is the
acceptance of different behaviors and ideas
that are different from our own.
Absolutism: Belief that there are some
morals that do not change over time or in
different contexts. These morals are called
Absolute morals or Universal morals.
Arguments for Relativism
1). Studies by Anthropologists show wide variation across
cultures in expectations and behaviors
2). Morality is derived from culture (hence cultural values)
3). Different Cultures have different values, therefore
different truths must exist.
Is Right determined by a simple majority for relativists?
How can any society be wrong if they set their own
moral parameters of right and wrong?
Arguments for Absolutism
1). Similar Morals exist in all societies (lying, murder, theft)
2). All people have similar needs for survival (naturalist
3). Similarities in relations across culture (sister, father)
4). Similarities in sentiment (jealousy, happiness)
If there are absolutes, shouldn’t we force other cultures to
adhere to them (even against their own will)?
Isn’t there a dire risk of Moral Imperialism?
-Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Ala Kachuu’
-Rate has increased over last 50years
-Penalty for practicing increased to 10years
-Around 1/3rd of women were unwilling
-India’s Practice of Sati
-Banned in 1829
-Some fought for right to continue tradition