Absolutism& Relativism



Absolutism: Believe in moral truths that are fixed for all time,& for all people; Moral actions are right/ wrong in themselves irrespective of circumstance, culture/ opinion

  • Deontological thinkers
  • "Follow the good and avoid evil"
  • Objective- Allow moral rules to be evaulated critically
  • Universal rules
  • Examples of ethical Absolutists:

1. PLATO- Believing that goodness itself really exists beyong this world

2. ST THOMAS AQUINAS- Believing in a fixed devine law

3. F.H. BRADLEY- Believing that morals are fixed, part of a concrete universe

Strengths- Clear cut answers, objective, universal (No need for debating), fixed ethical code, set of morals to follow

Weaknesses- Doesn't take circumstances into account, intolerant of culture, choice of evil, hard to objective when influenced by cultural beliefs

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Relativism: Believe that moral truths varies from depending on culture, time and place

  • Subjective 
  • Teleological 
  • Guidelines
  • Examples of ethical relativists:

1. ARSTOTLE- Believed that forms were in this world& thus not absolute 

2.PROTAGORAS- "Man is the measure of all things"

3. SUMNER- "The right way is the way which was the ancestors used and which has been handed down" = Anthropologist- Apprciated culutural diversity

4. J.L MACKIE- "There are no objective values"- Different cultures ethics are evidence against the existence of moral absolutes

Strengths- Tolerant (Cultural relativism), realistic, flexible, accomodates differences

Weaknesses- Different views, ambiguous

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