Talk:Moral relativism

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Old talk[edit]

See for older talk: Talk:Cultural relativism

This page has more information about moral absolutism than moral relativism. It needs a decent rewrite, from a NPOV. At the moment it is written from a decidedly absolutist point of view. (talk) 01:46, 4 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. This article is clearly POV, even from the perspective of someone who doesn't understand the topics well enough (ie, myself). I don't even need the "specify" tags and banners everywhere to know that this article is decidedly against what it's attempting to explain. I'd help rewrite it but, as i said, i know nothing of the topic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:32, 20 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

relativism defined as 'what is valuable depends on changing circumstances' does NOT! entail subjectivism according to the oxford companion to philosophy. i would change the article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 06:09:41, August 19, 2007 (UTC)

Leo Strauss and Relativism[edit]

I've read most of the book this article cites as its source on Strauss and find no justification for the article's statement that he's a moral relativist. Indeed, much of his work was intended to attack modern philosophy for descending into moral relativism and nihilism and to recreate a political science that would be able to call tyranny tyranny and condemn it as what it is, which he considers the present political science incapable of doing. One might argue - and people have - that his arguments against relativism are merely exoteric and that he's really a relativist down deep, but I consider this position completely incorrect, or at least very, very controversial.

See, for example:

Zuckert, Catherine and Michael. 2006. The Truth About Leo Strauss: Political Philosophy and American Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. See especially Chapter 5: "Leo Strauss - Teacher of Evil?" which addresses claims that Strauss called for the lawless and criminal tyranny of philosophers and argues that to claim this is to fundamentally misunderstand Strauss.

If the person who wrote the Strauss section for this page can't back up his or her claims, I intend to delete it, as I can't see a reason to have a section on Strauss in a page on moral relativism. What he actually thought on the matter is simply too open to debate and what he actually wrote is simply too complicated to address in this article.

EJD 14:09, 22 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Objective truth"... possible truths, but none are scientific... falsifiability?[edit]

There seems to be much discussion here as to whether or not there are moral constructs that can be viewed as "objective truths"... I think it's worth mentioning that, while moral/ethical statements may have significant practical value (and therefore may be interpreted as "truth" in a utilitarian sense), they are not scientific statements. Wikipedia's own page on falsifiability maintains that "Ethical statements such as "murder is evil" or "John was wrong to steal that money" are not usually considered to be falsifiable."

Although Karl Popper's claim was that the difference between science and nonscience was falsifiability, he was wrong... It's actually just as hard to falsify something (to prove it's not true) as it is to confirm something. There are ways to work any new evidence you might find into any theory--even if they initially seem to conflict.
Perhaps falsifiability does not necessarily equal scientific. However, it still stands that moral/ethical statements are not falsifiable, whatever implications that may have on their scientific qualities (or lack thereof). One way or another, it is important to mention the non-falsifiability of moral statements in this article (even if we don't link that to science), as non-falsifiability places them in the same category as other non-falsifiable statements such as conspiracy theories or pseudoscience. Like I said, wikipedia's own page on falsifiability states that moral/ethical statements are "not considered to be falsifiable," so why shouldn't we mention that here? By the way, you claim Popper was wrong, but Wikipedia's page on falsifiability claims that there is actually an open debate and no right/wrong consensus concerning Popper.
The point I was trying to make is that every theory/proposition is not falsifiable, which defeats the purpose of declaring it in specific cases. You're right that there are people who disagree with my position (e.g. people who still think Popper was right)--although how they could is beyond me... But in contemporary philosophy of science Popper has certainly fallen out of favor, which is about as close as you can get nowadays to being "wrong."
So I followed your own link to the philosophy of science page, where I found under the "falsifiability" section that: "Despite criticisms of falsifiability by philosophers, it remains a cornerstone of many working scientists' personal philosophy of science." .... fallen out of favor??? hmmm.... It sounds to me that this objection to falsifiability is clearly a pet peeve of yours, and not at all a consensus among scientists/philosophers. Anyhow, many pages on wikipedia reference the idea of falsifiability, such as the page on Freud (which mentions that his critics have accused his theories of not being falsifiable). It's only fair to reference the notion of falsifiability here as well, as to correspond to the falsifiability page's own mention of the non-falsifiability of moral/ethical statements. In addition, the article should contain a link to non-cognitivism, which entirely pertains to the "truth-value" of morals/ethics.
Right... many "working scientists" still go for falsification theory, because it has a nice ring to it and seems to justify what they're doing. But "working scientists" are very different from philosophers of science; the first group is content to simply do science (whatever it might be), while the latter is interested in what science actually is and the justification of its methodology. (Of course, a lot of philosophers of science are also scientists, but hopefully you get my point.) It's among the philosophers that falsifiability has fallen out of favor, and it's the philosophers who matter in this article, since scientists (although they might say "falsifiability" when necessary) generally reject all this sort of theorizing as hogwash for the humanities.
I do think it's appropriate to mention "falsifiability" in the Freud article, because this criticism has been leveled at him quite frequently since Popper, in an attempt to separate Freud from modern psychology, which is supposed to be "real science." (I'll have to check that article to make sure it doesn't say anything stupid about falsifiability...) However, I don't think falsifiability has come up nearly as much in the discourse on morality. If we're going to add a "not-falsifiable" clause to every article on wikipedia that deals with something non-falsifiable... well, let's just not think about that. Also, this isn't actually a peeve of mine... I've just got time to kill.-BrownApple 22:09, 13 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
In addition to having nothing to do with this article, your claim is obviously wrong. The fact that a theory can be reworked to include new evidence does go against naive falsificationism, but a single counterexample falsifies an empirical universal while no number of examples confirms one, so it's not just as hard to prove that something isn't true as to prove it is. Also the claim that Popper has fallen out of favor is nonsense; the sophisticated philosophy of science views of people like Imre Lakatos and David Deutsch refine Popper, they don't discard him. -- (talk) 10:31, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There seems to be an article on moral realism embedded in here[edit]

In the "Moral relativism versus absolute morality" section of this article is a paragraph that reads

Moral Relativism is in direct opposition of Moral Realism (which contains the concept of moral absolutism) and is characterised as follows:

And then is followed by two rather lengthy paragraphs that appear to be solely about the concept of moral realism, not even bothering to describe it in comparison to moral relativism. I'm no philosophy guy, though, so I figured I'd ask here before moving this stuff over to the moral realism article; is there any reason why this lengthy description is here, am I just missing mention of how it relates to moral relativism within it? Bryan 05:47, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

criticism of moral reletavism[edit]

The article says:

"Moreover, aside from logical constraints, there is an evaluative aspect to certain moral terms (e.g., good and bad), a standard of measurement, much as is with the concepts of less or more, and this property would not be relativistic."

Does this make sense to anyone? why would this 'evaluative' property not be relativistic? Seems to me like a meaningless sentance that should be removed.

Mistaken, perhaps, but certainly not meaningless, which means something quite different. Less, more, good, bad, have a shared aspect across the cultural divide (e.g., this wrench is good or that pail holds less than the other), and the meaning of that aspect (there are other aspects) is not relative to a cultural standard, but to a universal standard. In other words, there is an invariant property of certain terms (not necessarily what they refer to). The standard of less in "This is less than that," is not relativistic, notwithstanding the variance between this and that. Some terms, including some moral terms, are even lacking in descriptive content and have formal, modal properties, such as the term "ought." Therefore, aside from other descriptive properties of the terms, their factual content, there is a means of reconcilling differences, one that does not depend upon relativistic criteria(e.g., based on a cultural standard), but one that is universal. THis is not a novel view, but one hashed out by the analytical movement for fifty years. (see Baird, Berumen, Hare,).
It would make more sense if "good and bad" were replaced with "better and worse". -- (talk) 10:54, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"One might also say, as Berumen has, if relativism were true, then in some sense it hoists itself by its own petard, for there is no reason to prefer it over any other theory."

Rubbish (there's a lot of it here). The truth of moral relativism does not negate the reasons to prefer true statements over false ones. -- (talk) 10:54, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Seems like the criticism of someone who mistakes moral-relativism to be immorality of amorality (see section 'Moral relativism versus absolute morality'). Moral relativism does *not* mean that one shouldn't have moral values, it only means that one accepts that these values are convensions. It is by no means an ethical thoery that dictates a course of action, nor one that negates any course of action.

I therefor think that putting such criticism here is misleading. It only muffles the meaning of the term. It's better to restrict the criticism to such that is made by people who understand what moral-relativism means.Cederal 13:28, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

There is no such mistake and it is not misleading. Several editors have thought moral relativism simply means that different moral norms exist and that they all have a validity of their own. This is anthropological relativism, and not very sophisticated version, at that. The accepted philosophical definition of moral relativism (Hume, Westermarck, Williams, Hare, Baird, et al) is that there is no preferred standard of truth by which to measure moral judgments, unlike, for example, that which obtains for mathematics, logic, or (to some lesser extent) science. Hare and Berumen, among others, have shown that one must distinguish between a proposition's cognitive content, its correlation with the facts in the world, and its formal or logical properties. Ethical judgments are subject to the rules of formal reasoning, logic, which are devoid of any factual content (beyond trivial tautological content). Consequently, notwithstanding the truth conditions of an ethical proposition's descriptive properties, it is subject to one standard of formal reasoning...which negates an aspect of relativism, though some opposed to relativism would find it less than satisfying, for it says nothing about the descriptive content, itself, just that one cannot hold contradictory positions,that the laws of identity apply, and there are rules that apply to conditional statements, etc.. Relativists (some) claim their's is a metaethical theory. Some critics, in turn, claim this is a distinction without a real difference, for saying that there is no preferred standard of truth (a unviersal standard against which to measure all ethical assertions) is, in fact, making a normative judgment about ethical propositions. Some relativists want to have theier cake and eat it too....its metaethics, they'll say, except when they are judging the truth of normative propositons. It is in this sense (when it is acting as a normative theory...which it does whenever it weighs in on truth or says there is no preferred standard) that Berumen (and others )suggest that relativism cannot logically claim precedence by its own standards. icut4u
These critics are talking rubbish; fact claims about ethical propositions are not ethical claims about them. -- (talk) 10:54, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree, you shoulda seen the paragraph on moral realism that I moved to the other article (it said that a society that didn't embrace moral realism would be in trouble because it couldn't say things like "murder is wrong" :).
Possibly irrelevant to the page, but a society would not have to. It can easily say "although murder is not wrong, hardly any of us want to be murdered, so we're going to severely punish anybody who does it" and be practically identical to a society that embraced moral realism, except (in my biased opinion) it would be more enlightened. Moral relativism does not imply personal indifference. AngryStan 02:33, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Such a society would be similar when conducting its own internal affairs, but the point is its ability to criticise other societies. Murder is a bad example: a better one is apartheid or female circumcision or some other culturally-specific practice. The relativist has to say something like "it is considered wrong by my society, but it isn't practiced in my society. and the societies that practice it obviously do not think it is wrong". Such a compromised positions may well lead to de facto indifference by failing to provide adequate grounds for intervention.1Z 22:27, 2 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What you are calling a "compromised position" is an empirical fact (it is considered wrong in my society, it isn't considered wrong in other societies). What voicing such facts may lead to is irrelevant to the truth of the matter. -- (talk) 10:54, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Just for clarity, I saw you said "I think moral relativism is often misrepresented along these lines" below, so please don't think I'm ascribing the above position to you. AngryStan 02:36, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think moral relativism is often misrepresented along these lines, the only reason I didn't do a full rewrite is because I've no philosophical qualifications and didn't want to mess things up with my probably idiosyncratic understanding of these terms. If so many people agree this article needs work, though, I'm willing to take a crack at it (or at least support anyone who does). Perhaps it would be a good idea, though, to include a section on "common criticisms" like these even if they don't make sense. If people who come to this article have heard these criticism before then they should find something here addressing that stuff, IMO. Bryan 16:56, 19 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I agree with the comment on moral realism; however, I think this artilce has become a paen to relativism or universism, and it doesn't always protray relativism or its critics accurately. Relativism offers a potent critique to many ethical theories; however, it is not immune from criticism, itself, and the counter criticisms, here, strike me as taking them too lightly, even misrepresenting them, with a significant POV in favor of a very unsophisticated relativism. The article ought to describe the philosophical positions in an expository manner without taking one. It does not do that. Moreover, the language introduced in recent edits is far removed from the language of technical philsophers. Among other things, words such as "reason" and "reasons" and "justification" are used in a manner that is not customary in philosophical circles. icut4u

It is impossible to tell whether your undated comment was wrong when you wrote it or simply no longer accurate. -- (talk) 10:54, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This article became a hodgepodge of incongruent, redundant, and, sometimes, incomprehensible assertions. The major philosophical positions about both relativism as well as the principal criticisms of it were misrepresented. Technical philosophical terms were misused with abandon. It had a definite POV in support of a species of relativism at every turn, though it never articulated it in a manner that was understandable. I did what I could to restructure it and insert more information on the major philsophical doctrines, pro and con, along with references to some of the philosophers supporting those doctrines. The article was recently made into a promotion for a quasi-religious, moral doctrine that is certainly not among the major philosphical views dealing with relativism, namely, what is called "universism." I left a blurb in the article about it near the end, along with the website link promoting it, but its encyclopedic merit is highly suspect. I note that an article about universism was deleted. I will leave it to others to decide what to do with it, here, but it certainly should not dominate the longstanding philosophical tradition of relativism, that has more rigourous theories and very capable representation, nor should it give short-shrift to some of the serious difficulties that relativism presents. I will eventually put in some publications for references. icut4u

The encyclopedic merit of undated comments is highly suspect. -- (talk) 10:56, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New point of view?[edit]

I've just finished reading the Trilogy of Conversations With God, and since they are so popular today and they address Moral Relativism, shouldn't we complete the page with a note about the "new" point of view presented at this Trilogy? (is it really new? can somebody argue if the CWG point of view is really new or is it already covered in one of the presented definitions?).

--Ricardojimenezr 04:09, 22 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It seems as though it belongs in an article dealing with religious belief or with channeling, or some such thing. That there is one truth or many truths or no truths is implicit in the article. Discussion of a particular moral code or religious belief, such as this, seems out of place. The ideas presented on the page are certainly not new, and I don't see its relevance for this article. I will defer to you and others if a separate blurb seems necessary, as with the one on universism, which I myself find highly questionable as something that merits any attention in this article.



I removed the section on Universism, as this is a very small quasi-religious movement that has just started up, with members meeting in each other's houses. There's currently a vote going on as to whether to undelete the article about it. See Wikipedia:Votes for undeletion/Universist Movement. I've voted there that the movement may be (marginally) notable enough to have its own article, but it doesn't represent a notable philosophical position on moral relativism and therefore has no place in this article, in my view. The passage I removed is below. I also removed the link to their website. SlimVirgin 23:14, Mar 18, 2005 (UTC)

Universism is a new system of thought developed outside of formal, academic philosophy, and promoted by The Universist Movement. Proponents argue, among other things, that only those individuals causing or directly affected by an action can make any judgment about the action's ultimate rightness or wrongness. That is, individuals not directly involved in an action have no moral authority to judge that action. Any judgments, with or without authority, are understood to be relative to the individual's reason, experience and emotion, and thus different in many cases. This is similar to the outlook propounded by Sartre.

Relativism Redirect[edit]

On the issue of merging....there are several specific versions of relativism, for example, Cultural relativism, Cognitive relativism, Linguistic relativism, etc. One can imagine other forms. Philosophers and others close to the subject generally recognize moral and ethical reltivism as the appropriate nomenclature for the subject matter of this article. I therefore would disagree with the recent proposal to merge this with the article entitled Relativism. At most, non-duplicative points from the latter article ought to be incorporated into this one, though a cursory overview on my part didn't reveal anything that would add to it. Unless there is a disagreement, I will take the liberty of removing the caption suggesting this in due course. Thanks. icut4u

Yes, I agree. I can't see any discussion of the issue here, or any reason to merge. They are two quite separate, stand-alone pages. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:38, Jun 21, 2005 (UTC)


The last entry does not adeqately state or deal with (in the counter-argument) R.M. Hare's point that relativism is mistaken in a very fundamental way, since all moral prpositions and arguments are subject to the laws of logic, without regard to the truth values of the content. Also the conclusion of relstivism being unaffected by a criticism is personal opinion and not encyclopedic.[[User:Logic2go|Logic2go]

Since no one else tried to fix it I did. Logic2go

Calling it a point rather than a claim is POV. (OTOH, Hare's criticism not affecting relativism is a personal opinion the way that his criticism not affecting the value of 1+1 is a personal opinion.) -- (talk) 11:05, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

References format[edit]

Is there a good reason not to turn the references section into wiki Template:Book reference references? I've been doing that on pages that didn't already have consistent reference style but this page has one. Deborah-jl 22:26, 19 November 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is something I don't understand[edit]

"An observer in a particular time and place, depending on his outlook (e.g., culture, religion, background), might call something good that another observer in a particular time and place would call evil."

- Why is this a criticism? It seems only to support moral relativism. If one society sees something as good, and another sees the same thing as bad - then moral relativism is correct. Claiming otherwise contradicts the definition of morality, and disconnects it from the notion of right and wrong.

Your point does not compute for the following reason. Let's take a (generally) non-controversial topic such as peeling potatoes. Society A sees peeling potatoes as good, whereas Society B sees peeling potatoes as bad. This is not inconsistent with moral absolutism. The moral absolutist who views peeling potatoes as bad will simply say Society A is mistaken in its position, or may even go further and say Society A is therefore bad itself. I don't think anybody would dispute that different societies view particular acts differently in terms of "goodness", but this can be separated from the fundamental quality of "goodness" that the moral absolutist would ascribe to it, and described as a simple failure to correctly determine that fundamental quality.
I think the "difficulty" for moral relativists being referred to is that a moral absolutist could say to the moral relativist "therefore you are saying that you do not think, for instance, that the Holocaust was bad?" and the strict moral relativist would be forced to reply "you are correct". This is not a difficulty for the position itself - such a response would of course be consistent with moral relativism - but could create an inconsistency if the advocate of moral relativism is not prepared to admit to such a view on the grounds that it is clearly controversial. AngryStan 01:49, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This is drivel. The stated "criticism" of moral relativism is only valid if there are in fact moral absolutes, so it begs the question. And the "difficulty" is a strawman: the moral relativist does not say that she does not think that the Holocaust was bad, she says that her opinion that it's bad is not a universal truth. Moral relativism does not require one to abandon one's own moral judgments. -- (talk) 11:15, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Laymen's terms[edit]

I'm going to risk sounding like an idiot and propose that the language of this article be simplified; not necessarilly for those with "weaker" minds, but a weaker vocabulary. The flowery and elequent (sp) language really got in my way of understanding the article, and I have a feeling a lot of people can relate. No, I'm not going to start writing in a flowery language now, to show that I myself am elequent (and that I don't need the article to be "dumbed down"), because I don't feel the need to; obviously, knowing a lot of vocabulary doesn't always determine someone's wisdom or intelligence. Just give us the information; it's annoying to look up some words that I don't understand -- give it to us in "laymen's terms". Really, I think the pseudo-flowery language just gets in the way of the reader's learning. Do other encyclopedias read like this? It sounds like Plato's description of a sophist; just please try and make this simple and understandable like Socrates. And I want to say one more time that simplifying the language doesn't equate to dumbing it down. I may consider simplifying it myself, once I get a consesus/permission on it, because I think that will really do the public a service. 05:36, 22 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Problems for moral relativists[edit]

"Various historical and cultural events and practices (including the Holocaust, Stalinism, Apartheid in South Africa, genocide, unjust wars, genital mutilation, slavery, terrorism, Nazism, etc.) present difficult problems for relativists."

It isn't obvious to me how the holocaust for example (but the others as well) is a problem for moral relativists, and the following sentences don't seem to provide an explanation.

It seems like the argument is that since the holocaust is so obviously evil (the assumption), and that moral relativism can be used to consider the holocaust good, that moral relativism thus has an obvious problem on its hands. But the point of moral relativism is that the holocaust can only be considered evil by arbitary standards of right and wrong. There is only a problem for moral relativists who aren't actually moral relativists.

So I'm going to change it to read "Some believe various historical ... present difficult problems for relativists." I don't know if that is actually true, but as the header says there are already citation problems in that section. I don't really like my change much, but it's better than what's there. 13:54, 10 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. I think that the statement "moral relativism is bad because it can be used to justify any number of evils" is logically inconsistent, since that value judgment depends on the prior conclusion that those "any number of evils" are in fact evils, which a moral relativist would deny.
I don't think it is currently at all clear what the nature of this objection actually is, or how a moral relativist might counter it. I've made the following change therefore: "A moral relativist might respond that this criticism is only valid if one already accepts that such acts are indeed fundamentally evil - a position which the moral relativist would deny - and that the objection is therefore nothing other than an uncritical statement that morals are in fact absolute."
Maybe this entire paragraph belongs in its own section, or absorbed into the meta-ethics section. The meta-ethics section seems to respond solely to this point in any case. AngryStan 02:14, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The realist is entitled to assume that any moral system worthy of the name must make some sort of distinction between right and wrong. It is not begging the question, it is a presupposition of morality itself. A realist is entitled to argue that an "anything goes" relativist is a nihilist in sheep's clothing. (But establishing that anything really goes is non-trivial).1Z 22:36, 2 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is all rubbish. Moral relativists do not deny that evils are evil, they simply assert that the claim that they are evil is an opinion (widely shared and justifiable) rather than a fact. -- (talk) 11:23, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Peer review request[edit]

Editors interested in this topic might like to take part in peer review on a new version of Global justice I've been working on. Cheers, --Sam Clark 11:39, 28 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Debate on moral relativism" section[edit]

In case some of you guys haven't noticed, there exists a severe editorial slant in the section that is supposed to consist of opposing veiwpoints. The section refutes every argument!!! It hardly even questions the existance of what a great deal of people believe to be a critically flawed principle (I being among them). I'd like to see some major changes made by someone by the end of the week, or so help me, I will rewrite the entire section! I will not kill the rest of the article, but another voice on this topic must be heard!

Deepdesertfreman 13:12, 3 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Funny how you think it's POV to include refutations of arguments you fancy and NPOV to remove them. -- (talk) 11:34, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I am glad that some action has been taken to make this article comply with NPOV regulations, but it still is rather lacking in that department. I would like to see the following:

 -Benedict the XVI's critique of moral relativism
 -John Paul the II's critique of moral relativism
 -Where moral relativism may be illogical

Again, I will restate that another voice must be heard on this topic. The editorial slant of this article and of many others in the Philosophy Section are subject to an editorial slant that is imbedded into the framework and language of the text. I reccommend that there be a general expert review on the entire Philosophy portal and that the neutrality of these sections be discussed. Deepdesertfreman 18:56, 17 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I hear you, but:
1. There are counter arguments to all the opposing viewpoints, it is perfectly proper that they be included
2. Call me biased, but I think part of the problem is that the position is just fundamentally difficult to deny.
For instance, look at the three arguments we have:
1. Meta-ethics - as mentioned above, this argument is logically inconsistent, and requires that one accept moral absolutism before the criticism makes any sense. Since a moral relativist does not accept moral absolutism, he will immediately dismiss this objection as irrelevant and arising purely from a belief.
2. R.M. Hare - this argument seems to miss the boat altogether, by arguing that there is an "error of relativism" because the evaluative property "allows people of different beliefs to have meaningful discussions on moral questions, even though they may disagree about certain 'facts'. Moral relativism is silent on the matter of moral questions, instead dealing exclusively with these "facts" that Hare's criticism dismisses as irrelevant.
3. Normative moral relativism - this argument confuses its relativisms, saying that one cannot say there is no objective standard of morality if there is no objective standard of truth from which to say that. One could accept the lack of an objective standard of morality without having to accept the lack of an objective standard of wider truth. It is therefore a strawman argument.
So, I think this "editorial slant" you refer to arises because although some common criticisms of relativism are quoted here, none of them are really valid, and are easily countered. If you are aware of some more heavyweight criticisms, please do include them, I'd be interested to read them.
That being said, maybe we should expand into two sections, "Criticisms of moral relativism" and "Responses to criticisms" as in some other articles. AngryStan 02:27, 17 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Moral relativism's "silence" is just the criticism Hare is making. He thinks the lines of communication should remain open. 1Z 22:45, 2 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, I know, that's why I think it's misdirected - it's like saying moral relativism is flawed because it doesn't explain how gravity works. It's perfectly valid as a criticism if he thinks a moral theory *should* do this or that, but it's correspondingly simple to rebut for anyone who doesn't share that opinion and who thinks that an idea should be criticised for what it does do, instead of for what it doesn't. AngryStan 01:07, 3 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nevertheless, relativists do engage realists in debate so it is not an academic issue. The communicative role of relativism is a major issue. 1Z 01:35, 3 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No argument there, and I certainly have no objection to such an idea being in the article, but I still think this criticism does not address the theory itself, as much as it does the communicative difficulties which can arise from it in practice. For the record, I don't think it's any more sensible to say a given act is "relatively morally wrong" than it is to say it's "absolutely morally wrong", but that's just me. AngryStan 02:00, 3 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Communication ion moral issues is possible, and a meta-ethical theory should accomodate that. The relativist positions suffers from internal contradictions as explained, for instance, under "other times".1Z 10:27, 3 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The relativist position has no internal contradictions -- any such contradictions come from smuggling in an absolutist premise, begging the question. -- (talk) 11:34, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Some philosophical considerations" section[edit]

This section has no subtitles or subsections, and is very long. In one paragraph it talks about descriptive relativists and in the next, meta-ethical relativists. This section needs to be re-written or merged into other sections. Tom Stringham 19:12, 24 August 2006 (UTC) EDIT: I have divided the section into subsections and moved one of the paragraphs to the top and adapted it into a leading paragraph. I have also renamed the section to "Philosophical Views". Tom Stringham 19:38, 24 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

everyday moral relativism[edit]

The two religious critiques at the end are not about the philosophical theory of moral relativism but rather about the everyday sort of "different strokes for different folks" mentality that's become common in the modern world. Where does discussion of this layman's moral relativism belong? A section of this page? Its own page? Jonathan Tweet 15:44, 16 September 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

latest edit[edit]

'In popular culture people often describe themselves as "morally relativist," meaning that they are accepting of other people's values and agree that there is no one "right" way of doing some things.'

Do they? I don't think I've heard anyone describe themselves as 'morally relativist' in 'popular culture' even once, let alone often. Is there a source for this claim? AngryStan 01:23, 22 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is because most people do not know the terminology "Moral Relativist" in order to use it in everyday language. However, their concepts about morality are generally in alignment with Moral Relativism. An example of this thought is that most people do not think that the Peruvian Indians are being born as "bad" people even though their moral ideals are strikingly different from ours. RandytheAtheist 22:02, 7 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Either people often describe themselves as "morally relativist" or they don't. The fact is that they don't. And we have no citations of studies determining what most people think about the Peruvian Indians. Nor do we have reliable sources that claim that thinking that Peruvian Indians aren't born "bad" people is "generally in alignment with Moral Relativism". What we do have is a lot of editors who are ignorant both of moral philosophy and of Wikipedia standards. -- (talk) 11:42, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Different kinds of relativism[edit]

In trying to resolve my confusion as to how ethical subjectivism and relativism are related, I think I may have identified a problem with this article: relativism has at least two important meanings, which refer to:

  1. the source of moral judgments (i.e., moral judgments stem from individual or societal preferences and are thus relative to the person making them), and
  2. the scope of moral judgments (referring to universal statements, like "You shouldn't do that, whether you agree with me or not", contrasted with relative or intrapersonal ones, like "I think I shouldn't do that, but I can't use my values to pass judgment on your actions").

On page 154 of Richard Brandt's 1959 Ethical Theory, he wrote "A subjectivist, clearly, can be either an absolutist or a relativist." I think he is obviously speaking about relativism in the second sense; clearly, in the first sense, subjectivism is a relativist view (and may even be synonymous with relativism).

This article mentions descriptive relativism, which is relativism in the first sense, according to Francis Snare:

Now one fairly clear sort of 'relativism' makes claims, not about what really is right and wrong, but only about beliefs about right and wrong. This version of relativism, usually called 'descriptive relativism', merely claims that, as a matter of empirical fact, beliefs about moral matters differ. Thus when some people say that morality is 'relative' (a) to the individual, they are only making the descriptive relativist claim that, in fact, different individuals have differing moral beliefs.

— Francis Snare, The Nature of Moral Thinking (1992), p. 114

This stands in contrast to normative relativism, which actually makes value claims. Snare calls one variation "ethical relativism":

(3b) Ethical relativism: The one and only feature which makes an act A morally right for person P is A's being required by the moral code of the culture P is in."

— Francis Snare, The Nature of Moral Thinking (1992), p. 145

This is what relativism has meant to me. In any case, it seems clear that there are two very different kinds of relativism, and while the section on Descriptive relativism appears okay, the section on Meta-ethical relativism appears to be incorrect, or at least unclear — ethical relativism is not just the observation that people's moral views differ, but the claim that a thing is good simply because a person or their society approves of it.

Elembis (talk) 21:12, 2 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ethical relativism may be descriptive or normative as can any other kind of relativism.

I don't think it is helpful to think in terms of "sources" as it confuses historical/etiological issues with epistemic ones. 1Z 22:10, 2 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This article is terrible...[edit]

The criticism section particularly. The person who wrote it obviously does not really understand moral relativism. I tried to make some corrections, but I think a major re-organization of this information is in order.

The criticisms in this article simply do not address moral relativism in its simplest form. Instead, they attack more complex forms of moral relativism, some of which are, in fact, self-contradictory.

Agreed. I'd have fixed it long ago, but it's beyond me. Jonathan Tweet 16:08, 14 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You need to explain what this better form of MR is. Your edits do not come remotely close to do doing so. I suggest you use the talk page. The article was not written by a single person. You should not present you persona views as the One True Relativism. if it can be established that some people believe such-and-such a form of relativism, then it is pertinent to criticise that form, even if it s not the form that you favour. 1Z 16:30, 14 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This Page on Moral Relativism is not a Page on Moral Relativism.
This Page on Moral Relativism is an argument against the validity of Moral Relativism.
This Page on Moral Relativism is a misrepresentation and presents Moral Relativism from the bias of a Moral Realist point of view.  — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:20, 28 November 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply] 

"The majority beliefs have no correlation to personal beliefs".[edit]

It is not clear what this means.1Z 16:33, 14 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

other times[edit]

(which is the view held by only some moral relativists; many moral relativists do not believe this)

The original version made it clear that it was talking about cultural/social relativism not persona/subjective relativism. This distinction does not need making. Also, the rewrite lessens the force of the objectivist argument. Arguing for relativism is one thing, removing arguments against it is another. I am reverting 1Z 17:52, 14 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"a relativist in a slave-owning society of the past who says 'slavery is wrong' is effectively saying 'slavery is not approved of by my society', which is false — 'factually' false." It is this argument itself which is "factually false". Just because something happens in a society, this does not mean that society "approves" of it. For instance, we live in a society where the sexual abuse of children happens relatively regularly, yet to call this a "child abusing society" is a vast error. "Approved of" would require a specific definition. It is quite possible, for instance, for more than 50% of the population to believe that slavery is wrong, yet for the law to still allow it. In such a case, the above argument is wholly fallacious - with moral relativism, "a relativist in a slave-owning society of the past who says 'slavery is wrong'" could, in some circumstances, be entirely correct according to a relativist position.
That is a trivial objection. Most slave-owning societies approved of slavery.1Z 19:48, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is true, however, that an relativist who says "act X is wrong" could be factually incorrect according to that theory if his views are of a sufficiently small minority of the society in question. In such a case, however, we would be faced with the difficulty of defining "society". If we were, at some time in the past, to define one society as "those living in the northern states of the USA", and another as "those living in the southern states of the USA", then two people in the USA could have alternately said "slavery is right" and "slavery is wrong" and both of them could have been correct simultaneously. Similarly, a Jehovah's Witness who says that "blood transfusions are wrong" today could be held to be correct if one restricts the term "society" in this case to him and all the other Jehovah's Witnesses. This is especially the case when we substitute the word "culturally" for "socially" - there is no reason at all to suppose cultural borders to coincide with artificial socio-economic ones.
That is also a non-issue. However thre relativist defines a society, even down to one individual, they are going to face the problem of explaining moral improvement taking place across time within that society.1Z 19:48, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To make sense of relativism one has to distinguish between actually being wrong, and individual expressions of their personal moral convictions. An act only becomes *in fact* wrong when a sufficient percentage of the relevant society comes to *believe* that it is wrong. "Slavery is wrong" for the individual thus always remains a value statement rather than a statement of fact. The idea that one can separate "personal/subjective relativism" from "cultural/social relativism" is just false and disingenuous, since the latter is comprised solely from an aggregation of the former.
That is 100% POV. Moral subjectivists believe they can solipsistically decide right and wrong. (The issue of drawing social boundaries is relevant here, because you need the boundary to decide when opinion becomes fact. It is not relevant in "other times" becomes you are comparing like with like so it "cancels through").
Ah, anything you disagree with is "100% POV", whereas your own opinions are not POV. -- (talk) 12:00, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thus, the argument above is fallacious as it (1) fails to distinguish between "acceptance" and "occurrence", and (2) deliberately uses the term "society" to attempt to prove itself true.
In the same way, however, the theory itself can deliberately use the term "society" to attempt to prove itself correct under any circumstances, for instance by restricting the term "society" to "those who are sexually attracted to children". Relativism does suffer, however, from this strange idea of "truth" being a factor of consensus, just as absolutism suffers from the strange idea of "moral truth" being a property of the physical universe. This is evidence for the view that both moral relativism and moral absolutism, if followed to their logical conclusions, must in fact eventually lead to moral skepticism, which suffers from none of these problems. I harbour a sneaking suspicion that most moral relativists are in fact moral skeptics who are emotionally unable to stomach the idea that no act at all can ever be "wrong", but that may be just me. AngryStan 16:21, 15 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thank you for your opinions, and for keeping them out of the article.1Z 19:48, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is all rubbish. Moral relativism denies that moral judgments are facts. The claim that a moral judgment like "slavery is wrong" is "factually false" presupposes moral absolutism. -- (talk) 12:00, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"Relativists need not be considered supporters of (to us) evil acts and institutions. Their critics might consider it rational to reject relativism on the basis that it allows the possibility of justifying wickedness, even if it is not carried through, since some acts are so abominable that they demand to be condemned utterly, and not just as being "against my personal precepts" or "not what my culture teaches".

"Auschwitz was not a discourse. It trivialises it to see it as a text".



This entire paragraph doesn't belong in an encyclopedia.

"(to us)"?? To whom? This is blatently POV.

Likewise for "some acts are so abominable that they demand to be condemned utterly" - also blatently POV.

Same for "justifying wickedness" - blatent POV.

The entire paragraph adds nothing - the previous paragraph ends "Each makes assumptions the other does no share." and this one just continues the idea that moral objectivists just don't believe a word of it. The point is already made.

The quotation added is also pure propaganda, and does not belong in an encylopedia.

The idea of criticising relativism because of its consequences, rather than its truth, belongs in a separate section. I'm not sure why this section is entitled "other cultures" anyway. Such a criticism should include the counter criticism that it is not a belief in relativism, but a belief in absolutism, that is most likely to result in the "atrocities" that they condemn. We may cite the idea that it is absolutely right to burn people who don't subscribe to a particular religion, for instance, since they are absolutely wrong to disbelieve in it. Most of the world's atrocities result from fanaticism, which is a function of absolutism, not of relativism.

So, deleted the offending paragraph and quote. AngryStan 03:34, 18 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"(to us)"?? To whom? This is blatently POV.

Leaving out the "to us" qualificaton is also POV, since it implies moral values are context-free, thus favouring the objectivists. What would you suggest? 1Z 19:38, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Have added the "consequences" argument and counter argument. AngryStan 04:19, 18 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Such a criticism should include the counter criticism that it is not a belief in relativism, but a belief in absolutism, that is most likely to result in the "atrocities" that they condemn".

This is considered in the article, and show to have no real force. One can hold to tolerance and non-interference as abolute values, or to intolerance and interventionism as relativist ones.1Z 19:33, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. ^ Richard Evans, In Defence of History, P106-7

Other Times and Personal/Subjective relativism[edit]

The issue is not that the article

  • a) unjustly ignores personal/subjective relativism


  • b) escapes the problem

the issue is that

  • c) personal/subjective relativism does not escape the problem.

I am reverting. If you think personal relativism escapes the problem you must explain how it does and not just dogmatically assert it.1Z 19:57, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Personal relativism escapes the problem because the criticism is entirely based on "morally right" being "what a society accepts/rejects". A personal relativist doesn't accept this definition, hence is completely immune from this criticism, obviously.
Your statement "however this argument only needs to compare a society (however defined) at one time with the same society at another time." is false and disingenous. The whole basis of your argument deals with contrasting one person's view with the prevailing view of his society *at the same time*. The historical aspect is wholly separate from this argument

"The argument was phrased in terms of cultural relativism, but a parallel argument applies to subjectivism. It is difficult for a moral subjectivist to claim that they have undergone any personal moral improvement, or that an attitude they used hold was wrong, when it was obviously what they felt at the time. For them, there is no external standard to judge against, so while their attitudes change, they cannot be said to improve or decline." How is this a "parallel argument"? What on earth does "personal moral improvement" have to do with this argument? Moral relativism expressly denies there being any idea of one set of morals being "preferable" to another, since it denies this objective standard. All your argument is saying is "moral relativism is flawed because it is not moral absolutism". You must justify and explain this or I will revert this nonsense again shortly. AngryStan 21:00, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The fact that relativism cannot express moral innovation/improvement is a point againt it if that is a requirement for an adequate moral theory and otherwise not. It is POV to flatly state that moral improvement does not matter (or indeed that it doesn't matter to *any* relativist). If relativism is less experessive than objectivism, that is still a point of difference. Some relativists might want to argue that relativism can do anything objectivism can. 1Z 21:08, 20 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is all rubbish. Moral relativists aren't devoid of moral judgments, they just don't consider them to be facts. Anyone with moral judgments, be they moral relativists are moral absolutists, can recognize their past selves as having held moral judgments they now disagree with, and consider themselves to have improved. Also, some of that improvement may be based on learning new facts rather than changing moral stances; for instance, a moral relativist humanist might change her moral judgments about dolphins or gorillas after learning things about the cognitive abilities of those species. -- (talk) 12:19, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Argument from intolerance[edit]

This objection is already mentioned in the article. While popular, it is rejected by professional philosophers.

"A further counter-criticism might be that moral absolutism is as likely or more likely to lead to such "immoral acts" since a belief in absolute "right and wrong" can potentially be used to justify any number of acts that might generally be considered to be "atrocities". For example, many people ("Joan of Arc" being a prominent example) were burned to death in Europe during the second millennium simply because they disbelieved in the religion of the prevailing monarch, and this disbelief was held to be absolutely wrong and deserving of execution; few people today would accept this as being correct, and this fact supports the argument that it is difficult to demonstrate that the consequences of believing in moral absolutism are necessarily less "immoral" than the consequences of believing in moral relativism."

1Z 02:06, 21 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Do we care whether a noteworthy viewpoint is rejected by professional philosophers? Moral relativism is a habit or attitude apart from being a strictly philosophical phenomenon. Jonathan Tweet 02:13, 21 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I moved it in the end, although there is still overlap between Intolerance and Intervention. Noteworthiness in philosophy is down to philosophers. As I am reminded every time I log into WP, being a believer is very different from being an expert. 1Z 02:52, 21 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Apparently someone is only a professional philosopher (and an expert, yet) if they agree with 1Z. The fact is that actual experts recognize that a) a belief in moral absolutism can indeed lead to atrocities and b) this has no bearing on whether moral absolutism is valid. -- (talk) 12:25, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Lack of Commentary on Moral Relativism as a Legitimate Moral System[edit]

There doesn't seem to be any commentary on the criticism of Moral Relativism as a real moral system. The article clearly states that the idea of immoral action is denied in Moral Relativism. Yet, isn't the point of a moral system to say what ought and ought not be done? Wikictionary, has this definition of moral "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior, especially for teaching right behavior". Merriam Webster says something similar with "of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior". OED says this about morality "Ethical wisdom, knowledge of moral science" but Moral Relativism denies the existence any such knowledge or wisdom. Doesn't the fact that Moral Relativism denies any principles of right and wrong and says nothing about behavior mean that it is not an actual moral system but rather a principle that denies the existence of morality? I think this criticism of moral relativism might be worth adding to the article. 12:08, 26 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Most of the criticisms do say that one way or another. 1Z 20:12, 26 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Moral Relativism only denies "Universal" rights and wrongs. It does not deny "Local" rights and wrongs. In fact, it explicitly implies that morals are local - that there are individual spheres of moral standards - but none of them being contained in a greater sphere of moral standards. So while there are no concrete absolute morals, there are consequential ones created by the society one wishes to participate in. RandytheAtheist 00:19, 8 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

that's the problem. if you want to eat babies, you just join a baby-eating society and its OK. 1Z 01:44, 8 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Its only a problem for you. It isn't a problem for the Chinese who sometimes eat human and fetus tissue as a luxury. It isn't a problem for the natives in the Northern Territory of the Outback. And it isn't a problem for the Korowai either. If you want to join their society, that isn't a problem as well because morals are relative. "When in Rome..."RandytheAtheist 20:42, 16 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The underlying problem is still that cultural relativism can justify anything, it devolves to "anything goes", and it is not therefore a meaningful system of ethics. Which particular things are right and wrong is beside the point 1Z 12:29, 14 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Its not 'anything goes', because relativism demands a context, but what it doesn't do, is demand that only one context exist. Its only when you jump contexts that it appears to be 'anything goes'. People do this readily because they are looking to compare contexts to find an objective standard, but looking for one in relativism is nonsensical. Characterizing it as 'anything goes' simply shows that you are not ascribing to relativism, while saying nothing about relativism itself.

People might be motivate to switch contexts in order to find an objective standard, but they might also be motivated by a desire to find justification for whatever they wanted to do in the first place. It is not "only". The statement that relativism has no objective standard is a correct description of relativism, but it is not a defence of relativism. I can't make any sense of your last sentence, there seems to be a word missing. 1Z 10:53, 20 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Finding a justification outside of the context of an action is an appeal to objectivity. I don't see any difference in your also. As to defending relativism, there is no real need on this issue, 'anything goes' simply isn't a valid description of relativism. Yes, my last sentence was confused, but it was redundant.

This is all rubbish. Moral Relativism isn't a "moral system", it is a stance concerning what the nature of morality is. Likewise moral absolutism isn't a "moral system" -- it is about the nature of morality, but does not state what is or is not moral (different moral absolutists make different factual claims as to what is moral -- which is virtually a refutation of moral absolutism). -- (talk) 22:10, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Line removed[edit]

I deleted "In this sense, it is argued, moral relativism suffers from its inability to defend itself (as does, according to some arguments, pacifism)." Actually, it does not. The moral relativist is unable to claim that the attack is "wrong", "evil", etcetera, but he is certainly allowed to defend himself, not only in a traditional way, but by any means available, since none of them would be "bad". Am i missing something or this makes sense? Benceno 22:47, 7 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

You are missing something. The sentence begins "in this sense..". You are talking about other senses.1Z 09:00, 10 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I guess you may be right. I am not too proficient in English, so there may be some twist that I am missing. Thanks . Benceno 02:11, 12 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
What you are missing is "it is argued". It is indeed argued. But the argument is rubbish -- not only don't moral relativists lack their own moral judgments from which they can claim that something is morally wrong, but they have no trouble pointing out logical and factual errors -- those judgments aren't moral judgments, so they are undeniably entitled to them. And the mention of pacificism is irrelevant , and the argument against it is at least as stupid -- one doesn't need violence to defend the principle of pacificism. (One doesn't even need violence to defend against violent aggression, but even if a pacificist were helpless in the face of aggression that wouldn't invalidate the principle of pacificism.) -- (talk) 12:46, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Weasel words in "other cultures"[edit]

Recent changes:-

This is not a 'problem' however for relativism, it simply points to where the moral absolutism position differs from relativism. While the "majority" may indeed agree, this implies a minority does not. The relativist simply recognizes that the claim the "Holocaust was wrong" is a matter of opinion, majority opinion or not. The argument then comes down to an assumption, where the absolutist states their logical premise, what they sometimes call an axiom, their opinion, and then claim those who disagree are wrong, without offering any sound basis, other than saying things like 'its self-evident'.

...have added some weaselling. I am going to largely revert.

This is not a 'problem' however for relativism, it simply points to where the moral absolutism position differs from relativism. While the "majority"

..quotes unnecessary..

may indeed agree, this implies a minority does not. The relativist simply recognizes that the claim the "Holocaust was wrong" is a matter of opinion, majority opinion or not.

..."recognise" should be "believe" or "claim"...

The argument then comes down to an assumption, where the absolutist states their logical premise, what they sometimes call an axiom,

Both sides have premisses...

their opinion,

Absolutists do'nt believe it is just an opinion, so this sides with relativism

and then claim those who disagree are wrong, without offering any sound basis, other than saying things like its self-evident

..Self-evidence is an important issue in axiomatics. The comment is phrased to suggest that rels. have something more solid to go on, but nothing is offered.

1Z 10:36, 15 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Claims of self-evidence are dishonest in the absence of consensus. Moral absolutists assert that certain things are self-evident while moral relativists deny it -- the burden is on the absolutists to do more than beg the question. -- (talk) 12:51, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

POV in "consequences"[edit]

The recent changes deleted some reasonably well-argued material, and substituted the following plonking assertion

And of course this is true, one would have no 'absolute' right to anything. But this is not a problem for relativism, since decisions are not made based on absolute rights.

This clearly calls for reversion. 1Z 10:58, 15 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A counter-criticism might be that moral absolutism is as likely or more likely to lead to such "immoral acts" since a belief in absolute "right and wrong" can potentially be used to justify any number of acts that might generally be considered to be "atrocities".

The situation is not symmetrical. See current article.

Of course, one could direct similar criticism against any system which one doesn't agree with. (see: Fallacy of the Slippery slope)

This is far too sweeping.

Drawing boundaries -- Context-jumping[edit]

The reason this is not a fair criticism of relativism is that it ignores the implicit contextualizing which is central to relativism. When context jumping is used to justify one's actions, it is really just a dishonest appeal to an external authority. Dishonest people can abuse any system. Within relativism, the boundary condition is context, and while it may not be obvious to an outsider, and may indeed shift, it is subject to contextually imposed constraints. The culture I accept as my own limits my choices, if I choose to modify it, that has effects on the meaning of my past and future choices. Compared to absolutism, its dynamic, but also self-adjusting. Just because relativism can be easily abused doesn't mean its not valid.

The text this replaced actually made the same point in a briefer way: "unless forestalled by a meta-ethical principles that individuals need to be self-consistent. ".

The argument of the new text is flawed because it assumes (dis)honesty is not relative. Otherwise someone could just jump to a context where honesty or consistency don't matter 1Z 08:33, 26 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is no flaw, you just don't understand relativism.


"Some relativists regard this as an unfair criticism of relativism..."

What exactly is being regarded as an unfair criticism of relativism? There is no explantion of this.--Logiboy123 (talk) 01:49, 7 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I edited the "history" section of this article, which claimed that Chuang Tzu was a moral relativist, which he isn't.

Marx? Nietszche?[edit]

How can Marx be listed as a moral relativist? Even the description of Marx's views in this article doesn't describe moral relativism. I am going to remove the section on Marx.

I think Nietzsche is pretty doubtful too, but I don't know too much about his views so I'll leave him in.

It would be far better if this article contained some actual moral relativists. Where is MacIntyre? Misodoctakleidist (talk) 10:16, 12 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

MacIntyre is missing because the editors of this article know almost nothing of its subject. -- (talk) 13:08, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The edicts of culture[edit]

"Thus, it can be said that the definition of a society is relative. Keeping this in mind, a moral relativist would have to explain and outline why goth teenagers or homosexuals should readily accept or adhere to the edicts of another "culture", if it is true that there are no moral absolutes."

This seems like a very odd claim to me. Since when is it a requirement for moral relativists to support the position that members of subcultures must obey the "edicts" of culture? Fuzzyblob (talk) 05:54, 7 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Rousseau as a moral objectivist[edit]

It seems to me that to list Rousseau as the prime example of objectivism, or at least non-relativist positions, is incorrect. Rousseau clearly states that morality is purely conventional in both the Discourses on the Origins of Human Inequality and The Social Contract. This would make him amoral, not a moral absolutist. Amorality of this sort is compatible, if not the same thing, as relativism. I removed mention of Rousseau from this article. (talk) 23:13, 26 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If you think that Rousseau is amoral you have misread Rousseau. He believed that morality derives from God. He was a "relativist" in that he believed all the major religions derive from God and therefor all promote morality. I advise you to go back and read him again. (talk) 17:17, 12 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Philosophers unable to cope with common linguistic implication?[edit]

Speaking on the final paragraph in the header; Saying that someone who says they tolerate others' beliefs because there is no one right answer has "little to do" with moral relativism is absurd; this person is still a moral relativist, they've merely added the small step of therefore being sympathetic to those whose system of morality differs from their own. Even worse, that final paragraph in the heading goes on to say that their words are a mix of moral relativism and moral objectivism. What?! Saying you're TOLERANT of others' beliefs, while acknowledging that there is NO correct answer, sounds ENTIRELY morally relativist. It is not at all morally objective. Either way, I changed the absurd wording of that part earlier in the paragraph from "little to do with" to "partly to do with."

And I think we should strike that useless last header paragraph which, as is, seems like another arrogant attempt, which has no place in Wikipedia, at differentiating the public opinion even further from the academia. At spitting on those ghastly plebes. Oh isn't it fun to do! Chicopac (talk) 08:19, 10 April 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Biblical christianity section badly in need of cleanup[edit]

Belief in Biblical infallability and belief in Biblical Christianity are two different things. If you don't believe me, read CS Lewis. However, the whole question of whether the Bible is in itself absolute truth or not and whether that is the essential belief of "Biblical Christianity" is not germane to the topic of whether absolute truth exists. I suggest we merge the entire section into "Abrahamic religious objections" or somesuch. That would cover all the bases and wouldn't require each and every tradition to have it's own section. -- (talk) 19:57, 31 May 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Removed a bit[edit]

I removed the final paragraph of the introduction, it was incorrect. If a person "agrees that there is no one 'right' way of doing some things," they are a moral relativist, that is what moral relativism is. They are not a mainstream person who is misunderstanding moral relativism. If you agree that there is no "correct" or "objective" morality, this does not imply any belief in objective morality. Adding the fact that they respect other people's moral choices does not add any objective belief in morality, either. Even if they don't mean it as completely as a true philosopher does who knows the ramifications of Moral Relativism, they're not actually incorrect in their claim, they're just using the term a little more loosely, which does not warrant a paragraph in the main heading here. Chicopac (talk) 05:51, 20 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks to whomever put up that bit on moral pluralism. Chicopac (talk) 23:00, 23 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"...though most relativists propound a more limited version of the theory..."

Can we find a single example of someone who does hold this idea in its pure version? I think "most" in this context is kind of a weasle word.

I also changed the "some scholars" part of the Nietzsche section to reflect that this is the idea of the one scholar cited. Nietzsche's ideas are very often NOT obvious, and his attacks on morality were mainly on the Western/Christian version of morality. I don't think he would have susbcribed to the idea ther there is NO morality at all (i.e. that morality isn't a "real" thing). But such a discussion can quickly get labyrinthine, and this is just my opinion as someone who has read much of Nietzsche. --DanielCD (talk) 15:31, 21 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but from the article:

"Some moral absolutists criticize moral relativism on the grounds..."
"Some detractors of the theory of moral relativism believe that..."
"Another critique of moral relativism which falls into this category..."
"Some relativists regard the accusation..."
"These critics contend..."

No real references given at all and precious few examples of the holders of these ideas.

--DanielCD (talk) 16:34, 21 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


"Some moral relativists — for example, the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre — ..."

I looked in the article on Jean-Paul Sartre and some other references and don't see anything stating he is in fact a "moral relativist". Given what I know of him and his ideas, I think this statement may be a little too bold. Is there a reference that can give a solid backing to his being a "moral relativist"? Freedom to choose is not the same thing as moral relativism.

I'd like to see this sentence amended if it cannot be shown clearly that he indeed subscribed to this idea as the article seems to proclaim. --DanielCD (talk) 15:58, 21 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Categorization and different forms of relativism[edit]

Hi everyone. I've sort of adopted the meta-ethics bloc of wiki here, and I'm trying to get all the different metaethical articles to agree with each other and with the main article on meta-ethics, to properly interlink with each other, share similar formatting, and so forth. So far this has been going fairly smoothly, but I've hit a snag now that I've reached this article.

Just from the information already here on wiki, it seems that relativism could be categorized at least three different ways:

  • As a semantic theory about the meaning of moral sentences, specifically a subtype of ethical subjectivism claiming that moral sentences are statements of fact about the prevailing ethical opinions of society.
  • As a substantial theory about the nature of morality, as the negation of universalism; the claim that while there are correct moral judgements (whether those flesh out to be semantically cognitive judgements or not), which judgements are correct varies between different societies.
  • As a substantial theory about the nature of morality, as the negation of absolutism, but still potentially a form of universalism; simply the claim that there are no unconditional moral principles which ought never to be violated (e.g. "lying is always wrong" as per Kant). By this definition, even universalist theories such as act utilitarianism could be considered relativistic: they are universalist in that they say that the same moral judgements hold regardless of people's opinions, but they are "relativistic" in that they deny that any particular act is always absolutely wrong, since the rightness or wrongness of an act varies greatly by context.

I would very much appreciate any help from the editors of this article in both

  1. organizing this article in a way that mirrors and agrees with the other articles on meta-ethics, and
  2. accurately naming the different types of theory listed above, whether it be as some sort of "qualified relativism" or as something else entirely.

Cited definitions from reliable sources are of course most appreciated :-)

Also, any other feedback on the current organization of theories at meta-ethics would be welcomed as well. -Pfhorrest (talk) 06:23, 3 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This question is now part of a larger project I am undertaking, regarding disambiguating the terms moral realism, moral objectivism, moral universalism, moral absolutism, and moral relativism. I have started a discussion about this at Talk:Meta-ethics#More_extensive_reorganization; please come by and contribute your thoughts there. -Pfhorrest (talk) 22:56, 4 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Two extremes[edit]

The article seems to describe the moral absolutist as one who claims that all moral questions are known, and the moral relativist as one who claims that no moral questions are knowable. Either position must be rare indeed.

Also, there seems to be some transmutability at least in the case of moral absolutism -- IE: Torquemada, being an absolutist regarding heresy, instantly becomes a relativist regarding the issue of torture.

Inappropriate tagging[edit]

The article contains some phrases that were recently tagged with 'specify' and so on. The tagging represents a lack of English comprehension and has been removed.

The phrases "a/the moral relativist" , "a/the moral absolutist" do not stand for specific individuals, they just mean anyone whole holds those views (compare the phrase "the sceptic"). Therefore they do not need to be specified.

Likewise the phrase 'of whatever kind' is intended to cover a wide range of cases, not some specific case that has been left unexplained.

The article is far from perfect with lack of citations a particular problem, hwoever this i s not a forward step

1Z (talk) 08:04, 28 April 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't understand the following sentence in the 'History' section:

It is certain that Nietzsche criticizes Plato's prioritization of transcendence as the Forms.

Could this be made more clear? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:44, 3 June 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Moral supremacism[edit]

I have noticed that critics of moral relativism often make the charge that it can lead to a kind of moral supremacism because it tends to disregard the other valuable moral views that people may have. For instance, it has been said that the Nazis practiced a kind of moral relativism by refusing to recognize the value of inherent morality of other races, ethnic groups and societies. Similar arguments have been made with regards to cultural relativism , which are sometimes perceived as a forms of cultural supremacism. ADM (talk) 07:21, 23 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is just stringing words together, like saying that Catholics practice a kind of religious relativism by refusing to recognize the value of inherent religion of other groups. Even if there were such a thing as "inherent morality of other ...", and Nazis had "refused" to recognize its "value", that would not amount to a "practice" of moral relativism. -- (talk) 21:35, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This article is horrible[edit]

So a little ways above I called for help from regular editors of this article to clean it up and better organize it. It's been quite a while since then and I've received no response, and this article continues to get worse and worse - my coming here again was prompted by User:Nigelstead's recent string of uncited, POV, and editorial-style edits, though really they're no worse than much of the rest of this article.

I'm thinking of going through this tonight and stripping out everything that doesn't have some citation or reference (and cleaning up the references that are there into proper footnotes). I'm normally quite against deletionist practices, but this article is absolutely horrible and without some help I'm not going to be able to clean it up well enough, so I'm hoping that a bold step like this might get the ball rolling. At the very least it should clear out all the poorly written editorial cruft that most of this article is covered in, leaving only the solid, cited facts, which I hope will attract more quality edits and less "NO U" counter-editorials.

--Pfhorrest (talk) 23:58, 18 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This article is better[edit]

Turned out the only really crappy parts of the article were most of the long "Themes in the debate on moral relativism" section and the lede; the rest of it is decently written and cited enough that I've spared it the torch, and just reorganized it some. The new lede is a trimmed down derivative of the "Variations" section.

This article still needs a lot of work but I'm content to let others futz with it from here. --Pfhorrest (talk) 06:05, 19 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's still horrible, but in a different way. Consider, for example, what is present in that is missing here. -- (talk) 21:47, 17 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Relativsm as a result of group selection?[edit]

First off, the general scientific consensus at the moment is, that selection works on a genetic or level. There are some pointers that group selection might play a role, but everything i've read so far can be explained by the gene centered view. Group_selection

Then, even if the main mode of selection was the group selection, we would all have inherited the same moral principles as the most successful strategy. Why? Because we are as a species highly related to each other and variances between individuals in something as complex as evolved moral behaviour would be minimal. Therefore relativism cannot follow from group selection. One could make a stronger case for individual or genetic selection resulting in different moral tendencies as that would result in different stable equilibria.

Anyways, saying that the scientific consensus is, that group selection is the made mode of selection is wrong. Then, concluding from this, that relativism follows from that is a non sequitur, as in, it doesnt follow and has to be proven. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:52, 16 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

harris, warraq, and re-organization[edit]

Besides adding some interesting views on moral relativism, I shaped the headers into the "for and against" layout that was so successful in organizing ideas for the existence of god page. Any constructive criticisms welcome! -Tesseract2 (talk) 19:25, 26 May 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The elusive duplicate section[edit]

User:Dschwen wrote on my talk page, but I'm replying here since others may be curious as well. He wrote:

Oh my god, I've started to question my sanity, but triple checking the history of the article confirms it: There were two identical sections titles Arguments for meta-ethical relativism in the article. I merely removed a duplicate. So your edit seems to be based of the wrong assumption that I deleted that section entirely. Just like this poster on my talk page thought. I went over the two titles letter by letter, they were identical (compare section 4 and 8 here). --Dschwen 13:40, 3 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see now what happened. Somehow there was (presumably by accident) an additional, empty section titled "Articles for moral meta-ethical relativism" at the very bottom of the page, below the references and everything, which apparently User:Tesseract2 had overlooked in his reorganization, and which I hadn't noticed either. I had inserted the "section-expand" tag into the first of those two sections, since it was empty after Tesseract's reorganization. I thought Dschewn was deleting it because it was empty (he deleted the section I had tagged, in the middle of the article, not the one at the very bottom, which I didn't even realize existed) and redundant with the "for" section above it, and so I renamed the "for" section back to just "views" as it was prior to Tesseract's edits. I don't really have much opinion on having one "views" section vs having separate "for" and "against" sections, though since the "for" section was empty as created I lean a little toward leaving it as just one "views" section for now. --Pfhorrest (talk) 23:52, 3 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I was at first a believer of the for/against, but I suppose we don't really need an "against" section until we have a good number of actual against views. Actually I am sorry that my seemingly harmless empty section tripped anyone out - at least to any consequentialists. I owe deontologists NOTHING.-Tesseract2 (talk) 01:26, 4 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Scientific views"[edit]

User:Machine Elf 1735 recently removed the grouping of the first two "views..." subsections with the rationale of "Not "Scientific Views", "Scientism" maybe… Harris is engaged in punditry, not science. Scientists address his straw-man questions, outside a moral context.

I acknowledge the controversiality of calling those views "Scientific", along the lines of Elf's rationale, but I think those two pieces do belong grouped together somehow. They are both views from outside the mainline philosophical debate on relativism which are not religious in nature and share a common reference to science as an purported explanation of morality and why it is supposedly relative or not. If "Scientific views" is not an acceptable heading for that grouping though, I'm not sure what is, so I'm here looking for alternative suggestions. Ideas? --Pfhorrest (talk) 02:12, 3 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

OK well, keeping the structure won't be a problem unless the difference between the media personalities and mainstream scientist/philosophers keeps getting blurred.
  • Shermer was a professor, author and television producer/co–host with a master's in Psychology and a doctorate in Philosophy. He's a famous skeptic. He seems to be talking about religion there in the cited source... [I shouldn't make that assumption but here are the critical reviews]
  • Harris talks a lot about religion. [He begins the cited talk by acknowledging the general belief that Science officially has no opinion on such things]
Of course, scientists generally leave it to philosophers to speak to questions about Science and Morality.—Machine Elf 1735 (talk) 03:53, 3 July 2010 (UTC) [elaborated 05:35, 3 July 2010 (UTC)]Reply[reply]
And actually, I also changed the headers of those two subsections:
  • "Morality has evolved"→"Morality and evolution"
  • "Science can answer moral questions"→"Moral questions and science"
Plus I added a quote to the cite for Shermer's book The Science of Good and Evil:
"Given this presupposition, it seems reasonable to be both a transcendentalist and an empiricist, or what I call a transcendent empiricist." [italics are mine]Machine Elf 1735 (talk) 05:35, 3 July 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Posting a warning[edit]

I have posted a warning to this page. I am not an expert in this area, but I believe that this page:

has a much better introduction. I believe the introduction of this article is terrible. KeithCu (talk) 12:22, 15 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Read the page. It's certainly not as organized (many people will want to know that there are 3 very different ways to talk about moral relativism), and it doesn't cite any source about some of it's factual claims (e.g. it says most philosophers are moral relativists).
I wasn't focused on whether it was organized, just that it was much more understandable.
Still, that page is easy to read, so I have tried to re-write Wikipedia's lead to be a little bit more readable. I also added more discussion about normative relativism. -Tesseract2 (talk) 17:04, 15 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is still pretty confusing. KeithCu (talk) 20:18, 16 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That other page is thinly-veiled creationist propaganda. It tries to hang relativism on evolution"ism" (god I hate that word), and presumably the converse, universalism(/objectivism/realism) on creationism. Only divine command theorists care about whether people were created or not, as it derives its system of morality from the decrees of a creator; every other ethical theory doesn't care where people came from per se, just about what they're doing now. --Pfhorrest (talk) 22:00, 15 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That page might be creationist, but it is easy to read. KeithCu (talk) 20:17, 16 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I added a sentence hint to make it clearer to people what is the "conventional" meaning of the term that people hear in common usage. KeithCu (talk) 20:28, 16 January 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Forgive me if I'm not using this page correctly -- I have contributed to articles and I have read the guidelines for talk pages but have not previously read or contributed to talk pages. It seems as though the page should be better organized, but since it seems to me hopelessly disorganized I will put my comments here.... In the section on Nietszche I find it problematic how the author(s) lept from the article's topic, "relativism," to "realism" without explaining what they meant by realism or how the two relate. I am more or less sure that the author(s) did not simply mean to say relativism. Vikslen (talk) 16:55, 4 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No comment on the article issue, but I've cleaned up the talk page a bit and put your comment at the bottom where it's supposed to go. FYI, you can click the "+" button up there next to Read/Edit/History/etc, to add a new comment section to the bottom of the page automatically. --Pfhorrest (talk) 18:23, 4 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I tried adding a word to clarify. The point there is just that Nietszche is probably not a relativist.-Tesseract2(talk) 03:24, 5 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think that clarification is in the wrong direction. It sounds to me like whoever wrote that section meant to contrast relativism to realism, as is often done. In metaethics, one meaning of "realism" (the older meaning in fact) is synonymous with "universalism", which is the antonym of "relativism". I've never heard anyone speak of "relativistic realists"; both usual meanings of "realism" (the newer one is even more narrow) are opposed to any form of relativism. --Pfhorrest (talk) 08:06, 5 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Religious views: Buddhism paragraph misleading[edit]

I think the fragmentary Religious Views section is currently misleading, mainly because it lacks context. Whereas the Roman Catholic church has publicly campaigned against moral relativism (as clearly summarized in the RC paragraph), I'm not aware of any widespread Buddhist equivalent. The Buddhism paragraph implicitly seems to align Buddhism with official RC doctrine, based on a single quotation (almost as long as the entire RC paragraph) expounding the view of a single scholarly monk. Can that opinion, however scholarly, be taken to represent all Buddhist schools and opinions? I don't think so. For example, although the present Dalai Lama does not support abortion or euthanasia in principle, he feels that exceptional circumstances should be evaluated "on a case by case basis". (WP).--MistyMorn (talk) 10:46, 8 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

needs references[edit]

There's hardly any at all. AlbertBowes (talk) 19:07, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the lede[edit]

Anon editor wrote on my talk page regarding my recent reversion of his edit to the lede (this after I attempted to improve it following his earlier tagging in request of such):

Mr Forrest, although you have expertise in the field of ethics I would like to ask you: Have you ever heard the Pope denouncing the meta-ethical relativism of our age? You have not. Perhaps because this sounds rather technical, outside of the mileu of professional philosophy, journalists, commentators and broadcasters use the expression 'moral relativism' instead. We do not hear Christian commentators displaying deep concern for our civilization's dangerous slide into 'meta-ethical relativism.' Have a look at the following: or this or this . So as you can see the claim that Moral relativism as it is conceived in popular discourse refers to the point of view that there is no absolute basis (or objective criteria) for judging the moral quality of human actions and therefore that morality is a subjective notion relative to culture, history and circumstance, is uncontroversial. The edit you are proposing contains accurate information but it does not cater to people looking for a concise definiton in both scholarly and lay terms. The Wikipedia manual of style states that the lead section "should define the topic, establish context, explain why the topic is interesting or notable" and "be written in a clear, accessible style". Your introduction, since it does not address the layman, does not do this. Even if the 'plebs' don't know what they're talking about they need to be gently coaxed into the realm of the blessed : (talk) 22:59, 23 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I am all in favor of clarifying the subject for newcomers, but introducing falsehoods or bias toward that end isn't the right way to go about it. Nobody outside of philosophical circles may discuss any sort of "qualified" moral relativism (e.g. "descriptive", "meta-ethical", "normative") -- they just say "moral relativism" -- but different people using that same term mean slightly but importantly different things by it. The qualifying prefixes are used among those aware of those differences to discuss the different things different people mean by it, which we need to do here to remain neutral.
That is, one person says "moral relativism" and means only that many people disagree about what it moral -- but nothing more than that. Another person says "moral relativism" and means that there is nothing more to morality than those different opinions -- but doesn't advocate any particular course of action because of that. Yet another person says "moral relativism" and means that we ought to tolerate different behaviors, because morality is nothing but opinion, and opinions differ.
Are moral relativists obliged to tolerate any behavior? Some say yes, that that's exactly what moral relativism means. Some say no, everyone's still free to enforce their own majority, there's just no real objective basis for that. Others say that's not their demesne to say whether or not people are obliged either way, but they will note the fact that people disagree about such matters.
As this article is about the subject in general, we can't privilege any one of those specific things as "the" thing the name "properly" refers to. We have to remain neutral as to which of them the term "moral relativism" really refers to.
I'm happy to include more material about what they have in common as a slower introduction before getting to their differences, but all they have in common is something to do with the differences of opinion between people about what is moral. But they all say different things about those differences of opinion, so I'm not sure what more can be said about their common ground before getting into those differences.
If you have any suggestions please speak them and lets discuss how they can be worked into the article, but the edits you made before made it look like "descriptive relativism" was one thing, "normative relativism" was the same thing as "moral relativism", and meta-ethical relativism didn't exist; when in truth all three are called "moral relativism" by different people, and we have to reflect that. --Pfhorrest (talk) 05:41, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

As a further comment in response to this edit (which I have reverted) removing descriptive moral relativism from the article, I'd like to note that the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Moral Relativism is primarily about descriptive and meta-ethical moral relativism (with a dismissive note on normative moral relativism in passing) as well. --Pfhorrest (talk) 00:59, 11 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Sam Harris and the Moral Landscape[edit]

The postulated Moral Landscape proposes a solution to criticism surrounding issues of moral relativism. A concise summary of the morality proposed in the book could serve as an accessible opinion on the matter that would be appreciated by readers of this article. What do people think? Would anyone else who is familiar with the Moral Landscape care to comment? Timmytim6912 (talk) 01:15, 27 July 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Normative moral relativism[edit]

In the very first paragraph, it says that normative moral relativism means we ought to tolerate other peoples' actions because nothing is right or wrong, but it seems rather flagrant to me that this is not going that extra mile. If it's true that no one is right or wrong, there is no reason for anyone to tolerate or shun the behaviors of others, let alone demand that others tolerate, because toleration and shunning are both actions with no moral weight, at least in this framework. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:51, 29 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And some people raise that as a criticism against normative moral relativism, as covered in the section on it further down in the article. --Pfhorrest (talk) 20:30, 29 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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Does Normative Moral Relativism actually exist?[edit]

This section says that "most" philosophers disagree with this concept... so which philosophers do posit this as an actual moral framework? Do any? Or does it just exist in opposition for the purpose of reducio ad absurdum? Jmackaerospace (talk) 18:03, 18 September 2018 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Category:Postmodernism ...why?[edit]

"Category:Postmodernism" ...why? Is moral relativism relating to "postmodernism"? The article does not describe it. Revision as of 08:08, 1 November 2008 add it, and also does not describe it on the time. Critic of postmodernism (as well-known) Alan Sokal's Beyond the Hoax says:

Let me make one clarification from the beginning. A lot of the discussion this afternoon may come to revolve around the word "relativism", and it's important to understand that this word is used commonly to refer to three very different things: cognitive relativism (that is, relativism about truth and knowledge); ethical or moral relativism (about what is good); and aesthetic relativism (about what is beautiful artistically). I think it's very important to keep these three issues separate. My remarks in this talk will concern only cognitive relativism. Obviously that's not the end of the story: in our political work we have to make assertions both about facts and about values. But I'm going to have to stick to what I feel competent to discuss.

— Beyond the Hoax, chapter 3, p. 106. or the online quotation by himself

We can refer his remark for the article. Now, the adding-category actor probably has a common misconception (or a biased view) about "relativism with many definitions". - (talk) 12:53, 24 January 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]