Relativism is a very interesting belief that, well, doesn’t make a lick of sense. So why am I talking about it? Because most of the PC (Politically Correct, for those who don’t live in California) world believes in some type of moral relativism. It’s inescapable. That’s why I think it’s a completely relevant topic in today’s world and needs a response. To get started, let’s define the two types of mainstream relativism:
1. Conventionalism: Moral truths are completely or partially dependent on societal conventions. And for the ease of remembering, we’ll call this: “Societal Relativism” (i.e. if society believes (x), then you ought to do it).
2. Subjectivism: Moral truths are dependent on the personal preferences of the individual. We’ll call this: “I Say Relativism” (i.e. personal tastes: “Pizza Hut has the best pizza”).
In this post, I’ll start off by talking about some nonsensical conclusions of Societal Relativism (I’ll talk about I Say Relativism later):
The Euthyphro Dillema:
The Euthyphro dillemma applied to Societal Relativism basically goes like this: “Is ‘good’ supported by society because it is actually ‘good’, or is something ‘good’ because a particular society supports it?”.
The First Horn:
The answer to this one is pretty easy. If the relativist states that society supports something that is ‘good’ because it is ‘good’, then he’s not actually a relativist; he’s accepting that there is an alternative and more superior moral measuring stick, if you will, that society attempts to live up to. He is thus contradicting the core premise of moral relativism and ought to reconsider his beliefs.
The Second Horn:
This one is a little tougher, but not by much. If the relativist asserts that something is ‘good’ because a certain society supports, then a whole slew of problems happen:
Problem 1: A central belief of Societal Relativism asserts that all societal laws/beliefs equate to moral truths. This means that genocide, racism, infanticide, slavery, and oppression were all ‘good’. Really? Yup. If there are no ‘self-evident’ laws in the universe, this is what we end up with. I seriously doubt that you’ll meet any person that actually believes this, but if you do, then this person is, as William Lane Craig puts it, “morally handicapped” and needs to get some help.
Problem 2: If Societal Relativism is true, then anybody who opposes the ‘divine commands of society’ are immoral. Relativists agree with this. However, when taken to it’s logical conclusion, they seem to squirm. Why? Because people like, Martin Luther King Jr., Oskar Schindler, and many others that opposed the ‘sacred law of the land’ are thus ‘evil’. It’s a logical conclusion and is inescapable. The men and women who risked their lives to save the Jewish people in the Holocaust were all ‘evil’. The men and women who risked their lives in assisting slaves in the Underground Railroad were all ‘evil’. The list goes on and on. Most Societal Relativists don’t even realize this. They believe that relativism fixes ethical problems, when in fact all it does is complicate things.
As we’ve seen above, Societal Relativism goes completely against our moral intuitions. Things like justice, fairness, blame, etc. just don’t make sense in a topsy turvy relativistic world. It just doesn’t fit. The Societal Relativist is either morally insane, delusional, or hasn’t actually thought about what he or she believes. This is why it is our duty to show the frankly evil conclusions of moral relativism and give the alternative: moral objectivism.