Moral Relativism in Context

Noûs 44 (4):691-724 (2010)
Abstract
Consider the following facts about the average, philosophically untrained moral relativist: (1.1) The average moral relativist denies the existence of “absolute moral truths.” (1.2) The average moral relativist often expresses her commitment to moral relativism with slogans like ‘What’s true (or right) for you may not be what’s true (or right) for me’ or ‘What’s true (or right) for your culture may not be what’s true (or right) for my culture.’ (1.3) The average moral relativist endorses relativistic views of morality without endorsing relativistic views about science or mathematics. (1.4) The average moral relativist takes moral relativism to be non-relatively true and does not think there is anything contradictory about doing so. (1.5) The average moral relativist adopts an egalitarian attitude toward a wide range of moral values, practices and beliefs, claiming they are all equally legitimate or correct. (1.6) The average moral relativist often admonishes others to be more tolerant of those who engage in alternative ethical practices and to refrain from making negative moral judgments about them. (1.7) The average moral relativist sometimes makes negative moral judgments about the behavior of others—e.g., by harshly judging moral absolutists to be intolerant—but is less inclined to do so when the relativist’s metaethical views are salient in a context of judgment. (1.8) The average moral relativist takes anthropological evidence concerning the worldwide diversity of ethical views and practices to support moral relativism.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0068.2010.00763.x
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