Moral Relativism

Moral relativism is a theory which states that morality varies between individuals and cultures (from period to period) and that there is no such thing as objective right or wrong. It has two forms ethical subjectivism and cultural relativism. Ethical subjectivism states that morality is relative to individuals while cultural relativism holds that it is, in essence, relative to culture. Moral relativism denies the existence (or even possibility) of moral absolutes  of the objective moral truths that apply for all people in all places at all times.

Morality is relative because the essential bases of moral structures are based on convention. In an abstract sense, there is no such thing as absolute goodness or badness  there is only goodness or badness within a specific context, within the bounds of convention. Thus, an action may be good for some individuals but bad for others, or good in one culture but considered but in another.

Because morality is relative, so are the founding conventions. From individuals to individuals, culture to culture, conventions are more or less different. This is not without purpose. The conditions which govern social dynamics differ from individuals to individuals and from culture to culture. As such, the adaptive mechanism should reflect those conditions.

There are, though, universal morals. In all cultures, murder is a taboo. The existence of societies depended on the harmonious union of groups and individuals. Murder is viewed as an evil act primarily because it disrupts the natural foundation of the society. However, murder is in itself a natural rejection mechanism. It is not founded on convention (rather by necessity). As such, the existence of moral absolutes cannot be confirmed. Indeed, social scientists do not recognize even the strangest speck of absolutism.


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