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Absolutism Relativism
Moral truth is objective. There is no objective truth, or if
there is we cannot know it.
Moral actions are right What is morally true for you is
or wrong intrinsically not necessarily true for me.
(in themselves).
Moral truth is universal Morals are subjective to
unchanging in all culture, religion, time and place.
circumstances, cultures,
times and places.
There are some `absolutes' There are no `absolutes' in morality.
e.g. "genocide = evil" e.g. if someone says "genocide is
good", who are you to criticise them?
Absolutist: Plato, Aquinas, Relativists: Protagoras,
Bradley Summer, Makie.…read more

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Strengths Weaknesses
Explains cultural and moral diversity and Implies there can't be any real
why there are so many different practices, evaluation or criticism of practices (e.g.
values and moral codes (there's no one true burning of witches, human sacrifice,
morality). slavery, the Holocaust, or the torture of
Means that people don't have to the innocent).
discover the moral truth ­ we can just live Relativism doesn't allow society to
in the way that seems best to us. progress (e.g. the realisation that slavery
Means no-one has the right to dictate was unacceptable was slow to develop ­ but
how others should live. Can be a good no one would doubt that we have made
thing (e.g. "I have the right to moral progress).
conscientious objection") or a bad thing (e. Gives little reason to behave morally
g. "I have the right to beat my wife.") except to be socially acceptable.
Possibly a way to avoid conflict and Relativism is only a step away from
disunity. (If there are no absolute values subjectivism (no objective truth).
and no truth, there's nothing to disagree Ethical believes can and should be
about or fight over!) challenged; `primitive' practices do stop!
Allows everyone's culture a bit of Most of us want to say that some
respect ­ no one community has a monopoly statements are true absolutely (e.g. "It's
on moral truth, but all are trying to live a wrong to torture innocent people"). Just
moral life. because cultural practices vary doesn't
No one culture has the right to mean there is no objective `good'.
dominate and control another.…read more

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