A Critique of Ethical Relativism. MT Louis P. Pojman. Objectively. Therefore,. Ethical Relativism is the idea that moral rightness & wrongness. Louis Pojman: Against Relativism and For Objectivism conclusion (which denies moral objectivism) must be true. If moral objectivism must be. View Critique of Relativism from BUL at University of Florida. II. 3 A Critique of Ethical Relativism1 Louis Pojman In this article I first analyze the structure of.

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Clearly P2 entails relativism about morality.

In spite of this weak dependency on nonmoral factors, there could still be a set of general moral norms applicable to all cultures and even recognized in most, which a culture could disregard only at its own expense. Why should anyone give such august authority to a culture of society? In our own culture, the difference in the nonmoral belief about the status of a fetus generates opposite moral prescriptions. Nevertheless, the relativists still have at least one more arrow in their quiver — the argument from the indeterminacy of translation.

Note that Pojman thinks the argument is valid. Does this justify the killing? It is a debate about the facts of the matter, not the principle of killing innocent persons. All moral principles derive their validity from cultural acceptance. But why should we choose to view morality this way?

Thus, there is no objective right and wrong. We distinguished a weak and a strong thesis of dependency. If Murder Mike of Murder, Incorporated feels like killing bank president Ortcutt and wants to feel good about it, he identifies with the Murder, Incorporated society rather than the general-public morality. For even if we did find one or more universal principles, this would not prove that they had any objective status. Wilson has identified over a score of common features, 10 and before him Clyde Kluckhohn noted some significant common ground: As a matter of fact, they differ.


What is considered morally right and wrong varies from society to society, so there are no moral principles that all societies accept.

One person may belong to several societies subcultures with different value emphases and arrangements of principles. If this is all that morality comes relattivism, then why not reject it altogether — even though, to escape sanctions, one might want to adhere to its directives when others are looking?

Louis Pojman: Against Relativism and For Objectivism

ethica, One can also see great similarities among the moral codes of various cultures. How large must the group be in order to be a legitimate subculture or society? Conventionalism seems perilously close to ethical nihilism.

If Mary has an abortion, she is choosing to belong to the general society relative to that principle.

The tribe differs with us only in belief, not in substantive moral crtiique. In Europe, politeness to a stranger might mean kissing the stranger on both cheeks.


What the relativist needs is a strong thesis of dependency, that somehow all principles are essentially cultural inventions. If so, no better argument for that conclusion can be given. This thesis holds that language is the essence of relatlvism culture and fundamentally shapes its relativvism, cutting the culture off from other languages and cultures.

One Sudanese tribe throws its deformed infants into the river because the tribe believes that such infants belong to the hippopotamus, the god of the river. It seems that we need some higher standard than culture by which to assess a culture.

Louis Pojman destroys relativism – Philosophical Investigations

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. You must be logged in to post a comment. The conclusion here is NOT critiqhe true, even if the premise P1 is true. The trouble with this option is that it seems to lead critiuqe to counterintuitive results. What is the morally right thing for John to do? Relativism would seem to tell us that, if a person belongs to societies with conflicting moralities, then that person must be judge both wrong and not wrong whatever he or she does.


Leave a Reply Cancel Reply You must be logged in to post a comment. Does any one of these statements seem problematic? Perhaps we might agree for the sake of argument, at least that the very nature of morality entails two people who are making an agreement. Clearly, then, the worrisome premise is P2, called the dependency thesis. The nonrelativist can accept a certain relativity in the way moral principles are applied in various cultures, depending on beliefs, history, and environment.

However, though we may fear the demise of morality, as we have known it, this in itself may not be a good reason for rejecting relativism — that is, for judging it false. But experience seems to falsify this thesis. For example, if Mary is a U. Beliefs about what is right and wrong differ ccritique cultures the Diversity thesis. If he succeeds in both stages, the argument for relativism is defeated. Perhaps there is not as much realtivism as anthropologists like Sumner and Benedict suppose. As such, IF the premises are true, the conclusion which denies moral objectivism must be true.

If this is so, then the indeterminacy-of-translation thesis, which relativism rests on, must itself be relativized to the point at which it is no objection to objective morality.