Moral relativism refers to the theoretical standpoint that avers moral values differ between individuals or cultures. Moral relativists posit that the absence of moral absolutes confirms that values considered wrong by one society may be perfectly right in another. This viewpoint suggests that crusaders against the slavery trade were wrong to oppose a practice supported by certain societies. As a bastion of moral conduct, the Catholic Church has championed the need for moral absolutism in order to preserve a just and moral society. However, within their ranks, the clergy are challenging the papal rule requiring priests to remain celibate. The current push to allow priests to marry and have families supports the view that moral relativism is the preponderant theory with regard to morality.

From a biblical point of view, killing a human being is an evil thing and harsh penalties are imposed on any person who commits murder. Although most nations have laws that adopt this viewpoint, the Muslim Sharia law supports vengeance and allows relatives of a victim to kill the murderer. Thus, even in the event that morality was a matter of convention, different cultural and ethical practices would ensure different applications of the same value system.

Moral absolutists argue that judging other societies by their moral standards has improved humanity. Western support for democracy has reduced the incidence of wars globally and contributed to peaceful development in most nations. Respect for human rights and the setting up of legal mechanisms dealing with crimes against humanity have reduced cases of impunity by world leaders.

In conclusion, moral relativism mirrors the global situation today. People will always interpret certain actions in their own way and arriving at a consensus on morality issues is very difficult. Moral absolutists find it impossible to impose their lifestyles on others without being accused of infringing on the rights of freedom. Thus, tolerance as exhibited by moral relativists seems the best route to follow to achieve moral harmony.


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