relativism theories offer no convincing reason why people should be good discuss

this is an essay which recieved 9/10 marks 

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  • Created by: jessica
  • Created on: 15-02-14 13:09


Relativism is a normative theroy, that is teleological an subjective.Relativism implies that there are no universal truths, truth is only relative to the subject but can vary depending on the situation, culture and society.This means that nothing is absolutely right or wrong because all human circumstances are different, so there is a need to have different moral rules.

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one could argue that relative theories offers no convincing reason for people to be moral.This is because individuals can exploit the relative theory and use it as an excuse when they commit an action that is morally wrong.For example, a person could intentionally commit murder but claim it was an act of self defence.Also, relativism suggests that there are no real critisims for practices such as slavery,human sacrifice and the holocaust.When it is clear that these acts are immoral.

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Relativism also goes against  natural law as people can do what they please, despite how unethical it is, as long as they give a valid reason for their act.This means there would be no order in the universe, which is one of the five primary precepts.Relativism does not grant  moral progression to society, as we can't judge what is better, but the better world implies some objective testable ideas about what would be good, for example no racism or no war.There are also no condemnation for holding a view such as "genocide is good" or "women are inferior" .

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paragraph 3

In contrast, by its very nature relativism is flexible depending on the situation, this offers convincing reason for people to be moral.Relativism is based on situation ethics,developed by joseph fletcher, who argues that each individual situation is different and "Love relatives the absolute." Even stealing to save starving people can be made acceptable based on the Utilitarian viewpoint as it is the most agape thing to do.Therefore, relative theories can be moral as even Jesus broke the absolute rules of christianity, by healing on the sabbath day.This shows that relativism can be seen as christian based on sacrifical love, a 'good' act.

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Unlike absolutism, which is demanding and restricting, relativism becomes progressive rather than stagnant, adapting to our time.For example traditional practices such as women being housewives and not woking has changed because of challenging stereotypical views.

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To conclude, the strengths of realtivism focus on its tolerance and acceptance of a variety  of ethical views.However, it appears that relativist theories offers no convincing reason for people to be moral, as Consequences are always difficult to predict with any accuracy, and so cannot be more important than general ethical rules. Although, absolutism may seem intolerant of culture and diversity,there is a need for some absolute criteria, that is universal and trancendent to all culture and history, such as 'do not murder'. 

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