Hello all, I would like to begin by saying that a lot of the objections that I will raise have been offered in class previously. I wish to write this blog post in order to air some of my thoughts, and a new situation to analyze that may end up in my first paper.
Harman does an excellent job of succinctly laying out his thesis regarding moral relativism in the first sentence of his paper. He believes that “morality arises when people reach an implicit agreement… about their relations to one another (p.41)”. The crux of my argument revolves around the nature of an implicit agreement, and the idea of community agreement. The objection that I present here is epistemological in nature, in that I question how we come to understand implicit agreements especially in a community setting. Every individual has a unique perspective on the world that surrounds them, and it is more than likely that a situation which arises, will be viewed drastically different by two individuals.
This situation may be best described by using a (rather disheartening) scenario. Imagine a situation in which a woman has just killed her former rapist, and this scenario was viewed by two individuals. Both of these individuals believe that murder is wrong. However, one of these individuals (Person A) does not believe that rape is morally wrong, while the other is vehemently anti-rape (Person B). B will then say that the murder was justified due the heinous act of rape, while A will cling to the idea that all murder is wrong.
My issue with Harman’s moral relativism is that in this scenario the implicit agreement is entirely too vague. Both A and B seem to have come to the same conclusion--i.e., that murder is wrong; but when a complicated scenario arises that also involves moral disagreements regarding rape, then their implicit arrangement fails. In layman’s terms, my argument revolves around the ambiguity of Harman’s thesis regarding moral relativism. How do I know that when I say “murder is wrong” and the person across from me agrees, that we are actually agreeing to the same principle, and not our interpretation of it.