Friday, 4 June 2010

What's moral for me IS moral for you. Objection (3)

We've spent the last few entries looking at moral relativism in its most popular form today. Moral relativism is the belief that we create our own moral codes and as such what is moral for me may not be moral for you. In the first entry on this topic we saw that if we acted consistently in believing moral relativism we’d have to accept that every moral belief is equally worthy – even those that promote cruelty of the highest order. Right now we are looking at common arguments used to defend moral relativism or to attack the opposite position: moral realism. Moral realism is the belief that some sort of universally binding moral law actually exists independently of the human mind (in the same way cars or mountains exist whether or not we believe in them). The objection we are looking at today is the objection that moral relativism has been misrepresented by the kind of argument I've made against it. Let's have a look at this claim.

So long as you're not harming anyone ...

In Britain at least, it is quite common to hear the relativist express their belief like this, "it's all up to us to decide what morals we live by so long as we don't hurt one another." They would then object to the idea that relativism entails the equal worth of every moral belief like I have argued. This objection fails because it makes a moral claim that looks something like this; "one should not create a moral code that permits causing harm to another person." But if the relativist asserts that all moralities are just human inventions and there is no truth to moral matters, then that moral claim is itself just a human invention. If no such moral law actually exists then we have no obligation to follow it and the relativist is being inconsistent when he claims that we are bound by it. We'll look at another objection in the next entry.


Ryan said...

I didn't realise moral relativism caved in itself this much! interesting

nightbringer said...

Yeah if we want to take morality seriously it is a very weak position.