It may be that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some people think that Chagall's paintings are masterpieces while others don't see what all the fuss is about. Some find Wagner to be a marvelous composer while others prefer to listen to 50 cent. (Woody Allen once joked that he couldn't listen to Wagner for longer than a few minutes since he'd start to develop the urge to invade Poland. I wonder how he feels about 50 cent.) Perhaps, then, one ought to conclude that there is no objective truth about whether something is beautiful. Rather, it may be that what counts as beautiful is simply a matter of opinion or personal preference. And, of course, it may also be that one's culture contributes a great deal to what one finds beautiful.
Plenty of things are thought to be matters of taste or opinion. Taste is a trite example. Some people like coffee and some don't. Etiquette is clearly relative to culture. In some places bowing is an appropriate greeting and in others it's considered rather odd behavior.
One might be tempted by the idea that morality is relative. But is morality a matter of taste? Does morality depend upon personal opinions or cultural context? Could it be that there aren't any objective moral truths that hold independently of one's beliefs or culture? Are there no moral "truths" at all? Is each person's (or culture's) set of moral attitudes equally valid? If you answer in the affirmative to these questions, you're a moral relativist. If you answer in the negative, you're a moral objectivist.
One can be an objectivist about, for example, humor. One might think that Anchorman is a funny movie and that anyone who thinks otherwise is just wrong. According to this sort of person, it's a fact that it's a funny movie and even though there might be room to dispute this fact, it nevertheless remains a fact. Many philosophers say something similar about morality.
This is a podcast with a contemporary moral philosopher named Simon Blackburn. He discusses whether morality is a matter of opinion and he offers a number of reasons against moral relativism. What do you think about his arguments? Are you convinced by his position that there are universal moral principles that bind us all, no matter where we're from or what our personal beliefs might be? More generally, what sorts of reasons do you find persuasive in settling this dispute between moral relativists and moral objectivists?