Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Relativism and Moral Progress

From guest blogger, Kendra.

It is evident that there has been moral progress in the world. This makes the argument that relativists pose to be invalid.

Relativists might say to that, that slavery is bad is just the opinion of more people now than it was before or perhaps new technology eliminated the need in today’s society for it. There are still people that believe that one race is better than another, but it is the minority so it is not heard

They may pose the argument that well if I didn’t like milk as a child and now I like milk today that is just a change in opinion. It isn’t moral progress and neither is the change from a historical episode of immorality like slavery.

The objectivist would respond with the fact that we can agree society is more morally civilized now than it did 100 years ago. Woman have rights now and that is more moral. Gay marriage is becoming legalized all over the world. There is a systematic way to deal with criminals now. Etc. Those that have the differing opinion are too closeminded to be defined as rational humans that can be moral.

You cannot account moral progress to change of opinion. Relativists will continue to bite the bullet with their it’s just a matter of opinion account but at what point is that still sufficient? Objectivists have concrete historical evidence to show that humans have made progress on determining moral truths.


Liam Perkins said...

Hi Kendra,
I agree how frustrating a relativist POV can be. A relativist can continually refute a truth by sticking to their principals of individual morality. We as a society believe that we have accomplished many moral-improvements over the years but a relativist may choose to deny these improvements if they choose. I think it's important to remember that being a relativist is simply one way of looking at morality. Just like all other viewpoints we have studied, relativism has its strengths and its flaws. So, when you state that we have become more morally civilized over time, you are right in saying so, just remember that it's always possible for someone to have a different way of looking at things.

Hannah Blum said...

Hi Kendra,

I think that there can be many arguments for relativism and many for objectivism and ultimately, it will be difficult for people to figure out which is inherently correct. However, I agree with you that it is interesting to think about people's change of attitudes about slavery, women's rights, and gay marriage. It is hard to think that someone's opinion could change so easily on such important moral matters and I agree with you that relativism may not be the right perspective. Personally, I think a lot of people change their moral views because of access to stronger information and as you say "concrete historical evidence". Do I think that every moral truth has an objective right or wrong? Not necessarily, but I do believe that history provides reasons to act in certain ways and has the potential to change people's moral justifications. The people who previously participated in slavery did not have access to information and evidence that skin color is not an important factor of someone's moral character and some people today are still ignorant to that knowledge. Yet, I think more information is being discovered in order to change people's views and if we could travel into the future a few years we would see many different views, some may even be extreme.