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The Dangers of the Moral Relativism Concept

by Greg Baker  
1/20/2011 / Politics


Ethical subjectivism and cultural moral relativism are dangerous concepts to any society. The dangers lie not in the diversity of moral distinctions between cultures or individualsthe existence of these are indisputable factsbut in a particular culture or individual holding this concept as a cultural or personal belief. Read on to find out why.

WHAT IS MORAL RELATIVISM?

Simply put, moral relativism is the belief that no two individuals can be judged by the same moral standards because of different background, culture, upbringing, or beliefs. Thus, saying cannibalism is morally wrong, even for the tribes in various parts of the world that practice it, is erroneous and judgmental.

Moral relativism puts forth the idea that all morals are relative to the culture or particular beliefs of an individual. To those that hold this concept as a fundamental valueyea, even a moralit is wrong and judgmental for one segment of society to condemn any other different segment of society because of differing morals.

ARE THERE MORAL DIFFERENCES IN SOCIETY AND CULTURES?

This goes without saying. There is no denying the fact that cultures, religious organizations, and even individuals have vastly different ideas of what is right and wrong. The differences can be miniscule or fairly significant.

I will go so far as to say that every human on the planet has, to some extent, a unique moral code. Even those that hold to a particular pattern, like the Bible or other moral code, often find moral differences between individuals and even organizations.

THE DANGERS OF MORAL RELATIVISM

I believe it to be more dangerous to hold to moral relativism as a value, moral, or belief than that there are differences in any particular value system. The fact that a tribe in Africa sees life differently than I do is less dangerous than believing that right and wrong are subjective between us. Listed below are the problems with this belief.

* Moral Relativism (MR) Is Not Tolerant *

One of the arguments for MR is its allowance for tolerance and diversity. In a society worried about the feelings of differing segments of society, MR has been a lifeline for diversity pundits and advocates.

However, while claiming acceptance and tolerance, they universally condemn anyone who holds one moral code as superior to another. They cannot accept those who believe their version of right and wrong should be accepted by everyone, and they are intolerant of those who judge others by their own value system.

This weak attempt at tolerance only fosters a larger atmosphere of intolerance against those holding to any one particular value or moral system. MR is dangerously intolerant.

* Moral Relativism is a Study in Contradiction *

People who abide by MR argue that there is no such thing as an absolute. They absolutely, positively, undeniably believe that there are no absolutes. This contradiction is rife though the entire concept of MR. Merely to make such an absolute statement about absolutism is contradictory. And thus goes the entire concept of MR.

If one believes that you shouldn't judge another by another moral standard, they instantly turn around and judge you by the MR standard. If you hold your moral standard as superior to another, you are condemned by the MR believers. If you condemn another's action based on your moral code, you are automatically condemned by MR advocates.

It is a complete contradiction. True believers in MR ought to accept a person's belief in a superior moral value system. But if they did that, they would be forced to admit that MR as a moral doctrine is void of any value whatsoever.

* Moral Relativism Seeks to Eliminate Moral Stance *

At its heart, for MR to work, people must stop taking a moral stance. Morality must be projected onto your entire worldview for it to be lived individually. You must see thievery wrong for both yourself and anyone else around you for a moral stand on theft to be believable or functional.

But MR seeks to strip from a person's value system that a particular wrong is wrong no matter how you swing it. If a person is convinced that his values should only govern his own actions and not anyone else's, then why get angry when lied to, why lock your doors against thieves, why worry about marital infidelity, why stand against injustice? Morals, values, and honor must be projected into your entire worldview for them to be effective.

I am a Christian. I know that many people do not hold my value system. Nevertheless, I see everything through the eyes of my value systemeven those that do not believe in it. This in no wise lessens 'nonbelievers' in my eyes. But it does allow me to take a stand. Some may not like it, and that is their choiceI do believe in free will as one of my values. But my stand is a beacon, a light that has drawn many a dysfunctional marriage to, many a destroyed home to, many a depressed person to, and many a broken person to. My stand has allowed me to bring hope and happiness to many people.

MR would seek to strip that light from me. It would want me to look at broken lives through different eyes, eyes that bring no hope and no peace. MR is very dangerous to the health of any society. It would strip judges of the right to sentence criminals. It will strip you of the strength of your morals when compared to any other culture or society.

* Moral Relativism is a Forerunner to Anarchy *

Taken to its logical end, MR would bring anarchyevery man doing that which is right in their own eyes. How dare you condemn the murderer! You don't know his background or culture! How dare you deny a thief your valuables! Would you be so intolerant of his individual needs and desires? How dare you condemn the suicide bomber his right to murder innocents! Why shouldn't he be allowed to dieand kill othersfor what he believes in?

Taken to its end, this is what MR would say. The problem in telling everyone to do only what they think is right and wrong and then to deny another the right of condemning those same actions will lead to chaos and anarchy.

MR is very, very dangerous if held as moral worldview.

* Moral Relativism Encourages Immorality *

In its way, MR grants individuals and society permission to break all moral bonds and not to be condemned for doing it. MR fosters societal decay and decadence. Once you declare that morality is only to be held in the eyes of the individual, you pave a path to our more sinister and darker natures. You take the bridle off of society. You give justification for horrendous crimes of all types.

For MR to be acceptable, you must turn a blind eye on the consequences. Soon, immorality isn't immoral, it is acceptable, and we spend money and invent programs to deal with the consequences instead of dealing with the moral issues.

MR is dangerous to any society that holds it as a value. Clinging to a higher moral code is not only beneficial to a society; it is beneficial to the individual. It allows for a beacon of hope. Without people of such stalwart character and moral clarity who reject MR, slavery would still be alive today, Hitler would never have been opposed, and dictators would be allowed to continue with their atrocities.

No, to embrace MR as a value is incredibly dangerous.

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