Moral Realm Definition

The answer is that it all depends on the exact type of moral relativism that is represented. If the particular point of view by which moral claims are evaluated is to be that constituted by the norms prevailing in a society, then it is difficult to see how these norms themselves can be criticized. But if the relativist only insists that moral claims about a particular point of view are true or false, then it does not follow. In this case, the dominant moral norms may be wrongly judged from an alternative point of view, which may be the one favored by the relativist. For example, the current treatment of animals on American factory farms could be criticized by an American relativist who takes the position of a utilitarian dedicated to minimizing unnecessary suffering. According to most people throughout history, moral questions have objectively correct answers. There are obvious moral truths, just as there are obvious facts about the world. Cowardice is poor quality. A man should not have sex with his mother. Heroes deserve respect. Such claims would be considered self-evident and objectively true, as would the claim that seawater is salty. When relativists say that the truth of moral claims and the righteousness of actions are relative to the norms and values of the culture in which they occur, they seem to assume that members of that culture generally agree on the moral framework they are supposed to share. This can sometimes be the case; But such homogeneous and relatively static cultures are becoming increasingly rare.

Today, in many cultures, there are sub-communities that differ greatly on issues such as abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, polygamy, women`s rights, gay rights, drug use or the treatment of animals. Given this so, what standards and values should we refer to when judging a belief or practice? If the relevant norms are those of the subculture to which the claimant belongs, then the relativistic position seems to be in danger of sliding towards subjectivism, as there may be many subcultures, and some of them may be quite small. For the critic, moral relativism implies that one moral view is as good or as bad as another, and to follow this line is to tolerate immorality. But the difference between Western academics, who are moral relativists, and their counterparts, who criticize them, is clearly not a profound difference in moral values. They are all likely to praise democracy and condemn discrimination. Rather, the difference lies at the metaethical level in their view of the status of moral judgments and the type of justification they allow. Critics believe that some kind of objective bulwark is needed to prevent the slide into a form of moral nihilism “anything goes.” Relativists consider this fear to be false, because what it requires is both impossible and useless. According to them, an “ethnocentric” justification of one`s own views is the only available avenue, and it is sufficient. This line of attack seems convincing against normative relativism, the idea that what happens within a society should be judged only by the dominant norms of that society. If this is one`s own position, then one must argue that in a culture where, for example, adulterers are stoned to death, this practice is morally just, because it is justified according to the only standards that matter – those of the society in question. However, the argument is less convincing against the position identified as “moral relativism” in section 2 above, since this version of relativism allows beliefs and practices within a culture to be judged according to norms external to that culture.

From this point of view, stoning adulterers is correct in relation to some moral views (e.g., that of ancient Israel) and false in relation to others (e.g., that of modern liberalism). Thus, relativists who happen to be liberal inhabitants of the modern world are always free to judge what happens elsewhere by their own moral standards. What makes their position relativistic is their denial of the existence of a neutral, cross-cultural appellate court that provides an objective justification for favoring one point of view over another. For many critics, however, it is precisely this denial that makes relativism unacceptable. According to them, the two versions of relativism place all morals on the same level and make the choice between them arbitrary. In response to this criticism, moral relativists seem to have three options. Morality is derived from the Latin word meaning “custom”, which also gave rise to English customs, which refer to customs, values and behaviors accepted by a particular group. As an adjective, morality describes people or things that follow accepted customs or behaviors. For example, it is a person`s moral obligation to do what is right, and a moral lesson is a lesson that teaches what is right. As a noun, morality refers to a lesson learned from a story or experience (“the moral of the story is to be satisfied with what you have”); Plural morality refers to good ideas and beliefs about how to act or behave, as in “a person without morality” or “the company`s actions show a lack of morality”. In the face of such difficulties, contemporary advocates of descriptive relativism generally prefer a fairly modest and moderate version of the doctrine.

Wong, for example, believes that human nature and condition set limits on how moral systems can diverge while being considered true morality; But he argues that the experience of “moral ambivalence” — which occurs when one disagrees with another person`s moral views but recognizes that one`s position is reasonable — is nonetheless common and usually occurs when the parties place common values in a different order of priority. Moral relativism is not the only answer to perceived problems with moral objectivism. As already mentioned, ethical non-realism, ethical non-cognitivism, emotivism, moral subjectivism and moral skepticism are other possible reactions, because the mere denial of objectivism, like the mere fact of cultural diversity, logically does not imply moral relativism. However, this undoubtedly makes people more receptive to a relativistic view. The unsustainability of moral objectivism is probably the most popular and convincing justification for moral relativism—whether it results from the collapse of moral objectivism, or at least is the best alternative to objectivism.