Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 1 decade ago

Moral Objectivism vs. Moral Relativism?

Which do you agree with, moral objectivism or moral relativism? Why? What are the pros and cons of each one?

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Moral objectivism implies some "a priori" or some external cornerstone from which decisions can be made. One would first have to show proof of this to then claim any particular position is objective based upon this "ground of being" that exists outside of the realm of language. However, relativism does not necessarily imply all opinions are of equal value, or that anything goes. An opinion worthy of consideration must be supported by reasoned arguments. While anyone may have a "right" to their opinion, that doesn't mean their opinion has any value. And if you decide that any given action is right simply because it's your opinion, you must be willing to accept the consequences of those actions. Your opinion will not be enough of a justification. If you are looking for a template upon which to establish some universal, in the pragmatic sense, then the axiom "do unto others" is an excellent one. Except for extreme cases of psychological aberration, most people want the same things NOT to be done to themselves. This "most people" includes cultural and historical distinctions.

  • 3 years ago

    Moral Objectivism

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    Moral Objectivism vs. Moral Relativism?

    Which do you agree with, moral objectivism or moral relativism? Why? What are the pros and cons of each one?

    Source(s): moral objectivism moral relativism:
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    this is a matter of personal opinion, so for my opinion, you need a mix of both.

    objectivism is an absolutest view, where by things are bound by an un-moving, unchanging law, and therefore EITHER wrong or right. This is good for creating a safe environment to live in, whereby everyone knows what is right or wrong, and certain acts can be prohibited. however, it is fairly rigid and does not take into account that certain situations require different actions, and even the most rigid of rules could be needed to be broken in a situation. Relativism deals with situations being the route of the outcome, but this leads to the inability to always condem or set laws/rules which should never be broken.

    neither should be used fully, and i think you need both to come to the correct outcome.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    Moral Relativism: The view that what is morally right or wrong depends on what someone thinks. (To which the claim that opinions vary substantially about right and wrong is usually added.) We can think of this position as coming in two flavours:

    (a) Subjectivism: What is morally right or wrong for you depends on what you think is morally right or wrong, i.e., right or wrong is relative to the individual. The 'moral facts' may alter from person to person.

    (b) Conventionalism: What is morally right or wrong depends on what the society we are dealing with thinks, i.e., morality depends on the conventions of the society we are concerned with. The 'moral facts' may alter from society to society.

    Moral Relativism has become an increasingly popular view in the latter part of this century. Why?

    A couple of possible reasons: (i) The Decline of Religion: Religion seems to offer the possibility that morality was independent of us. With a turning away from religion there seems to have come a certain amount of doubt about the possibility of objective morality. As Dostoevsky famously wrote "If God doesn't exist, everything is permissible".

    But does it make sense to say that if there's no God, there's no such thing as morality?

    Not really. Think back to the Euthyphro problem. What we saw in thinking about it is that it's not as though believing there is a God makes it obvious why some things are right and others are wrong. If we join Euthyphro in saying that God loves the things He does because they are good, then we are saying that things are good (or bad) independently of God (and so, presumably, independently of whether God exists or not).

    (ii) Observing Cultural Diversity: Most of us are aware that the world contains many different cultures and that some of those cultures engage in practices very different from our own. Some people, notably the anthropologist Ruth Benedict (1887-1948), have argued that given all this diversity, we should conclude that there is no single objective morality and that morality varies with culture.

    Is this a good argument for moral relativism?

    Again, not really. First of all, we might dispute whether there is really as much diversity of belief about morality as folks like Benedict say. But even if there is, notice that it is a mistake to conclude based upon differing opinions about morality, that there are no facts about morality.

    Imagine this argument being offered approximately 500 years ago: "There is widespread disagreement about the shape of the earth. Some people say it's flat, others say it's spherical, some have even suggested it's a cube. What can we conclude, except that there is really no fact of the matter about what the shape of the earth is?"

    The lesson to take from all this is that, while moral relativism might be a correct theory, if it is, it isn't for either of these reasons. You need to do more work than this if you want to be a moral relativist. In particular, you need to confront:

    2. Moral Objectivism: The view that what is right or wrong doesn’t depend on what anyone thinks is right or wrong. That is, the view that the 'moral facts' are like 'physical' facts in that what the facts are does not depend on what anyone thinks they are. Objectivist theories tend to come in two sorts:

    (i) Duty Based Theories (or Deontological Theories): Theories that claim that what determines whether an act is morally right or wrong is the kind of act it is.

    E.g., Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) thought that all acts should be judged according to a rule he called the Categorical Imperative: "Act only according to that maxim [i.e., rule] whereby you can at the same time will that it become a universal law." That is, he thought the only kind of act one should ever commit is one that could be willed to be a universal law.

    (ii) Consequentialist Theories (or Teleological Theories): Theories that claim that what determines whether an act is right or wrong are its consequences.

    Utilitarianism is the best known sort of Consequentialism. Its best known defender is John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). Essentially, utilitarianism tells us that, in any situation, the right thing to do is whatever is likely to produce the most happiness overall. (The wrong thing to do is anything else.)

    Who's right here?

    That's clearly a very difficult question to answer.

    But here's what we can conclude: it's intellectually lazy (and perhaps false) to say 'morality is all just a matter of opinion'.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You might as well ask how many angels fit on the head of a pin.

    Whether moral absolutes exist or not, the reality is that, even if they do exist, we have no remotely practical way to determine what is absolutely moral, and what is not, and it seems entirely likely -- given the important results of 20th century philosophy -- that actually construction of such a system is not at all possible.

    The advent of various impossibility proofs in the 20th century (the turing halting problem being a good example) give clear examples of problems that cannot be solved at all. Given the startling resemblance between the "determining absolute morality" problem, and the numerous classes of problems that have been shown to be insoluble, one has to ask: what makes anyone think that a procedure to answer absolute morality problems is possible.

    A frank acknowledgement that all current moral systems are objective seems vasltly preferrable to the very dangerous (and clearly erroneous) claim that one's moral system is in any way based on absolutes.

  • 1 decade ago

    The problem is, of course, that it is a case of both and neither. The real difficulty comes with where to draw the lines. Treating others as we want to be treated seems to be a fundamental and unchanging moral imperative. Forms of this have appeared in all cultures throughout the world and throughout history. Consensual sexual behavior, on the other the hand, changes from culture to culture. There have been places and times in history where it would have been rude not to offer one of your wives to a guest for the night. And homosexuality was not merely accepted, but idealized in ancient Athens, a culture to which we trace many other aspects of our western moral foundations. And in between somethings that seem universal and immutable to things are completely arbitrary, there are a host of other moral decisions that cultures need to make. Even when we agree there are moral absolutes, who do we let define them for us? For 1000 years in Western Europe, it was the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church, until Martin Luther came along. Protestants returned to scripture for their morals, but each denomination picks and chooses from among occasionally contradictory pronouncements in scripture. Who will you trust to be the ultimate authority about what is Universally moral vs what are the morals relative to time and place?

  • 1 decade ago

    Actually I see it as both (both concepts can peacefully coexist): big ticket items are universal and are not up for debate (rape, murder, theft), smaller issues are up to the individual (consensual sex, use of language, relationship issues, manners).

    When we have no rules then it is chaos. When there are too many rules, we tend to crush people's rights to be individuals. Finding the balance point and defining it clearly is very very difficult and has yet to be achieved after thousands of years of trying to codify ethics.

    I agree with Artdavinci that ethics can't just be a matter of opinion, but then again there are far too many social conventions that get mislabeled as ethical concerns.

    (P.S. - I like what Rico said too.)

  • 1 decade ago

    well we're all just dumb monkeys so there is no morality aside from social norms (but maybe this is just to rationalize my bad behaviour).

    If we view morality not as a mysterious spiritual code but instead as a way in which we try to protect ourselves and live for what is best for us, then morality is objective, except of course in some instances where, what's right for me is not right for you??? For example a crack fiegn who may need a hit now and then to stay sane or may need methadone. These are not good things but perhaps a fair course of action in SOME situations.

  • 1 decade ago

    Are there moral absolutes? Absolutely yes. There are things that never change, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. They are eternal truths, eternal principles and they are and will be the same yesterday, today, and forever.

    One of the consequences of shifting from moral absolutes to moral relativism in public policy is that this produces a corresponding shift of emphasis from responsibilities to rights. Responsibilities originate in moral absolutes. In contrast, rights find their origin in legal principles, which are easily manipulated by moral relativism. Sooner or later the substance of rights must depend on either the voluntary fulfillment of responsibilities or the legal enforcement of duties. When our laws or our public leaders question the existence of absolute moral values, they undercut the basis for the voluntary fulfillment of responsibilities, which is economical, and compel our society to rely more and more on the legal enforcement of rights, which is expensive.

    Some moral absolutes or convictions must be at the foundation of any system of law. This does not mean that all laws are so based. Many laws and administrative actions are simply a matter of wisdom or expediency. But many laws and administrative actions are based upon the moral standards of our society. If most of us believe that it is wrong to kill or steal or lie, our laws will include punishment for those acts. If most of us believe that it is right to care for the poor and needy, our laws will accomplish or facilitate those activities.

    Despite ample evidence of majority adherence to moral absolutes, some still question the legitimacy of a moral foundation for our laws and public policy. To avoid any suggestion of adopting or contradicting any particular religious absolute, some secularists argue that our laws must be entirely neutral, with no discernable relation to any particular religious tradition. Such proposed neutrality is unrealistic.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.