In this paper there will be the analysis of the first argument on moral relativism as presented by Professor Beckwith. There will also be the analysis of the problems that are present in this argument and judgments shall be passed on whether one agrees with the varied premises or not.
From the first argument which is known as the argument from cultural and individual differences, the relativist says that there are no objective moral norms that are present as cultures and individuals tend to disagree on moral issues. The Professor finds that there are four problems that arise from this argument as seen below.
These problems are:
Relativism does not follow from disagreement
It states that even though people disagree about something, it does not mean that there is no truth. The truth will always be present even though people will argue against themselves. Even though we have different values, this does not mean that nobody is right or wrong as per the correct values. Moral disagreement proves nothing.
Disagreement counts against relativism
Relativists believe that when there is an argument, the truth is not present. There is the notion that relativism does not exist and thus we tend to disagree with it. There is the belief that there is the existence of objective moral norms in the society. When the relativist begins to argue for the case of relativism he has to admit that this principle does not exist at all. By standing for it, the relativist points to the invalidity of this notion.
Disagreement is overrated
It is true that people tend to disagree on various moral issues but this does not mean that they do not share the same values or there are no moral norms that exist to bind them at all time universally. This means that people will find the truths about their morally and cultures and the good in the society will prevail and the bad norms will be driven out of the society.
Absurd consequences follow from moral relativism
With no universal norms very bad occurrences and deeds would be castigated by people. There would be no universal moral judgment present universally in all societies and cultures. Another issue is that relativism advocates for the morality of the individual and this begs the question, what happens when the people conflict and their moral bearings clash? This makes the application of laws hard. They also point out that the culture of the person does not influence and individual’s morality and this brings about numerous questions and problems to be looked into.
From the above analysis I tend to agree with the Professor on this argument about relativism. The relativists say that there are no universal and objective moral norms that encompass all the people which from the problems that arise, is false. For one, the theories that are put forward by the relativists have a lot of loopholes. For instance, they say that when there is a disagreement, there is no truth. They go on further to argue on the case of relativism versus moral objectivity which makes relativism inexistent. Another problem with relativism is that from their theories, there is bound to be absurd consequences that will crop up. For instance, they say that the individual has moral autonomy over the society and they do not cover on what should be done if there are two individuals whose morality clash.
In conclusion, we see that this first argument that is presented by the Professor discredits the evidence and ideas that are put forward by relativists. By bringing about four problems that arise from their ideas, he completely critiques relativism and discredits it.
- Beckwith, F. J. (2007). Defending life: A moral and legal case against abortion choice. Cambridge University Press.
- Beckwith, F. J., & Koukl, G. (1998). Relativism: Feet firmly planted in mid-air. Baker Books.
- Eriksen, T. H. (2001). Between universalism and relativism: a critique of the UNESCO concept of culture. Culture and rights: Anthropological perspectives, 127-148.
- Perry, M. J. (1990). Morality, politics, and law: a bicentennial essay.