Epoch Relativism and Our Moral Hopelessness

In Sophie Grace Chappell & Marcel van Ackeren (eds.), Ethics Beyond the Limits: New Essays on Bernard Williams' Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. pp. 168-187 (2019)
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Abstract

When we look back upon people in past societies, such as slaveholders and colonialists, we judge their actions to have been morally atrocious. Yet we should give some thought to how the future will judge us. Here I argue that future people are likely to regard our behavior as no better than that of the past. If these future people are to be believed, then we are morally hopeless; we have little chance of working out the moral truth for ourselves. I argue that we ought to resist this conclusion, and that our best means for doing so it to reject moral objectivity and accept instead a form of time-linked moral relativism.

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Regina Rini
York University

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