Moral relativism

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2015)
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Abstract

Moral relativism is an important topic in metaethics. It is also widely discussed outside philosophy (for example, by political and religious leaders), and it is controversial among philosophers and nonphilosophers alike. This is perhaps not surprising in view of recent evidence that people's intuitions about moral relativism vary widely. Though many philosophers are quite critical of moral relativism, there are several contemporary philosophers who defend forms of it. These include such prominent figures as Gilbert Harman, Jesse J. Prinz, J. David Velleman and David B. Wong. The term ‘moral relativism’ is understood in a variety of ways. Most often it is associated with an empirical thesis that there are deep and widespread moral disagreements and a metaethical thesis that the truth or justification of moral judgments is not absolute, but relative to the moral standard of some person or group of persons. Sometimes ‘moral relativism’ is connected with a normative position about how we ought to think about or act towards those with whom we morally disagree, most commonly that we should tolerate them.

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Author's Profile

Christopher Gowans
Fordham University

References found in this work

Ethics and the limits of philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Moral realism: a defence.Russ Shafer-Landau - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The emotional construction of morals.Jesse J. Prinz - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Ruling Passions: A Theory of Practical Reasoning.Simon Blackburn - 1998 - New York: Oxford University Press UK.

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