An Approach to Relativism

Teaching Philosophy 22 (2):161-184 (1999)
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Abstract

In this paper, the author presents a lengthy class handout on moral relativism. The author treats in depth and disambiguates several senses of “moral relativism,” distinguishing between "cultural relativism," "situational relativism," "normative relativism," "metaethical relativism," "moral skepticism," and “irrationalism”. On the basis of the close attention given to these terminological differences, the author moves into a discussion of the question, “Is moral relativism true?” The author argues that while some forms of moral relativism are clearly true, others are clearly false, and that the answer to the question cannot be simply “yes” or “no”. Special attention is given to metaethical relativism, which is framed as the most philosophically challenging and interesting version of moral relativism

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Thomas L. Carson
Loyola University, Chicago

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