Should we be moral relativists?


When we answer this question on moral relativism, even there we could be right or wrong based on from where it would be answered. At the core of this lies the idea that truth has two faces. The first would be facts, facts we can all perceive and describe as real and part of the world we live in. The second would be the relative truth, which is related to how one believes the world ‘ticks’. By this I mean, that the views inherent to how we perceive the world, are relative to the beholder. With this argument I’ll proceed to look at morality.

Morality can also be described as something double in the sense how we perceive it. We see morality from our point of view as something that should be universal, but we know it is not. Still we’d be hard pressed to accept the idea that murder would be agreeable in different cultures or situations, sitting in the comfortable position we are in and reading this. So we are aware that our moral views are not universal, however we are not able to accept this fully. In this, relativism poses a problem in itself. But this is not the core problem when speaking of morality, but a problem of the ‘I’ which always mediates between us and the ‘world’.

So basically, assuming relativism is the way to go, this moral idea leaves a big problem in an organized world and society: there is no way to uphold any law. However, this may be the way to fit in relativism with a general morality. Earlier I posed the idea that murder could be ok in different cultures or situations, but at the core everyone believes certain acts, like murder, are bad. We also believe that stealing is bad, but it’s ok in certain situations. From this we may deduce that there is a general view on things that are bad, simply because they are harmful to others. More harmful in fact, than the good it brings. For example, if I’m starving and I’d steal a bread, my life would be saved, but the shopkeeper would loose 1 euro. There’s no question about the balance here.

So this leaves us with basic ideas, about what is wrong and what is right. Murder and theft are bad, but when I’m starving, theft might be excusable. Exactly there is the place we find for relativism, right outside the core moral judgements. Stealing remains bad, but the parameters we uphold to decide on a measure how bad it is exactly can vary between cultures, situations and moral visions. To an extent this is how national law systems already function and what seems plausible as a way of combinining a rigid and objective law system with the relativity of moral judgements.

Now, why would we not let the moral relativism reign? There’s the simple reason of it’s randomness, there would be no general law possible if we let go of the idea that some things are just wrong and unacceptable. If this would be a more fair and better way to go, then we would feel the central authorities on justice are repressing us.

I can’t remember what this was for. 

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