Moral Objectivism and Relativism

5/09/2012 DK 0 Comments

Moral objectivism and relativism
Taken from

Since time immemorial, philosophers and even ordinary people have always been bombarded with the question of how one should act. People would feel that it is important to have some understanding of why we feel certain things are right and others are wrong. Though different people would seem to have different standards of morality, the same concern holds true for everyone – to do what is right and what is good, and the field of ethics from Socrates’ time and onwards have tried to answer these questions regarding our actions if they are indeed morally right or wrong.

But in real life, there are times wherein what we believe is right would not necessarily mean right for other people. One big veto in Islam such as eating pork is just okay and normal in other religions like Roman Catholic. One ancient custom in a certain culture that is being practiced would seem so abhorrent in all the other cultures. And sometimes then, the “right thing” is not nearly as straightforward as conveyed in a great deal of business ethics literature.

“Many ethicists then assert that there’s always a right thing to do based on moral principle, and others believe the right thing to do depends on the situation and ultimately it’s up to the individual”.

Indeed, the history of Philosophy is also a history of debate. On one hand, some people believe that there is an objective truth and absolute moral principle in ethics (moral objectivists), on the other, some think that ethics must be relative to individuals, culture or time, that what is right for one person is not necessarily right for another (ethical and moral relativists).

I deem that although it is easy to say that there are no objective or absolute moral principles it is much more difficult, however, to live as if there are none. If we would say that the right thing to do would depend in the situation and it would be up to the individual, we are in a way becoming moral relativists.

When we would say that the right thing to do would depend on the individual and the situation, we would really simply speak of feelings, experience, and opinion, and thus the whole ‘morality’ portion simply becomes a mask for those terms. We really simply render an opinion or perspective on an issue, not some moral value. Our feelings are not necessarily perceptions of the truth – they may be nothing more than the result of cultural conditioning.

Say for example that in discussing the morality of a particular person, one would believe that it is wrong and the other that it is right. Both would come and share opinions which are staunchly different. There would be no method to draw a conclusion and thus both would know nothing about that particular person. If both would contradict, both would not also arrive anywhere other than concluding it simply with tolerance of each other’s opinions.

With it, we can make no OUGHT statements. And this is incredibly important. I cannot say that someone ought to do something, as they can simply respond that they feel as if they shouldn't. Thus, I can no longer say what one OUGHT and NOT OUGHT to do, which is what the core of morality is really indeed all about.

What I do believe is that there is really a universal moral principle which is applicable to us all. Right or wrong doesn't depend on what anyone thinks is right or wrong. That is, moral facts are like physical facts in that what the facts are does not depend on what anyone thinks they are. Even though that there are apparent differences regarding the performance of what is morally right and good, they have the same underlying and fundamental moral principles.

Today more than ever, the need for a universal morality would be all the more true. Just as the stability of our society would be impossible without individual relativism, our world stability would be impossible without some universally acceptable and fundamental ground. People may have different ethical perspectives or different morals, but their differences in perspective would lie on the influences of one’s culture and the factors that would correspond to one’s judgment. But even so, the aim of everyone is toward the good, thus a moral standard must be constant for all.

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