Moral Relativism

This paper explores and criticizes the moral relativism vs. moral absolutism debate with an emphasis on some real world cases. This paper does not explicitly state that one theory is right and the other is absolutely wrong, it advocates rational thinking above all and viewing the world and social interactions in the form of exchange of rights and obligations. Moral Relativism

It is a widely held fallacy that moral relativity teaches us that there are no morals, man is free to do what he pleases, and nobody is allowed to judge his decisions to do so. It is also a widely held fallacy that moral absolutism says that the rules are rigid and one must adhere to a strict ethical code no matter what the circumstances. When we view human interactions and behavior in complex environment of the world, we must not restrict ourselves to singular ideologies, we must not put curtain over half of the window and view the world in our own shade.

What these two ideologies represent is two different academic philosophical theories about the world, effectively, these theories tend to negate each other with an emphasis on proving the other wrong a priest on one side and a professor on the other. The actual real world is so much more complex that each situation calls for a unique judgment, a different perspective and does not fit in a predefined pattern. What philosophers attempt is pre-designing a set pattern where all human behavior can be plugged in and a moral value would be written on the output screen in form of a number 45100 for helping an attractive girl cross the street.

Both of these ideologies are correct in their own bubbles. Moral absolutism rightly believes that there is a moral code which the whole humanity should believe in, do not kill, no not cheat, do not lie etc (Collins, 1998). These are the rules and even if whole societies or cultures dont follow them, the rules remain the rules. 2  2 is 4 that is all we know and all we need to know. On the other hand, moral relativism is not wrong in saying that one should lie to a person who is about to kill ones friend, like John Hamerlinck says in his article (Hamerlinck, 1996). So, if both these ideologies are correct, what should we do

Before going further into this discussion I would like to make an appeal to humanity in general The time has come to finally decide if man is a rational animal or not, so let us do that first. If man is a rational animal, then he has the power to make rational decisions by definition and does not need set patterns to operate. In every unique and different situation, man can make rational decisions. Each moral decision can be weighed against a synthesis of these two theories and if the decision maker is sincere, he will make the ethical decision.

An easier way to do this is to consider all human interactions as an exchange of rights and obligations. It is the right of little Jackies class fellows to sit un-harassed inside the class and learn from their teacher, furthermore, it is little Jackies obligation to follow the norms of the class to become the part of the class and gain friendliness and respect of the class fellows. These are the terms on which these people interact and if little Jackie does not fulfill her obligation of being a nice girl, the class fellows are not bound to return the same, no matter what moral absolutism or moral relativism says.

Similarly, every person has a right to live freely and I cannot take that right from him, also, it is my right to live freely and not be harmed. However, if I decide to kill that man and ask from his friend about his whereabouts, he has the right to not only lie to me, but try to stop me, because I did not fulfill my social obligation, I must give up a few of my rights. We can even explain capital punishment by this method.

However, if someone wants to cut down the rainforest just to see what it feels like a moral relativist can stop him by saying, You should be sent to a mental institution because relativist or absolutist, no theory condones harming a large number of people, environment and society permanently just for the (possible) pleasure and curiosity of one deranged sociopath. We must look at the circumstances in which the decision is being made and judge from all perspectives. Not all things are right, but not all things are wrong either.


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