Argues for a sophisticated form of moral relativism within limits imposed by human nature and the human condition. Ethical non-realists obviously reject ethical realism, but not all for the same reasons; consequently there are several types of ethical non-realism. We might more accurately say that it is the book of ethics and so the source of ethics in that respect, but not the author of those ethics. The objection is that if we say beliefs and actions are right or wrong only relative to a specific moral standpoint, it then becomes possible to justify almost anything. To be sure, they may, as modern Western liberals, embrace values such as sincerity or open-mindedness. The universalist then should use the same methodology as the relativist: where the latter identifies difference, the former cites concurrence.
Cambridge: Harvard University Press,
Indeed, from the point of view of the old norms, any changes must appear suspect, since the old norms dictate what is right. If the particular standpoint, by reference to which moral claims are appraised, has to be that constituted by the prevailing norms in a society, then it is hard to see how those norms themselves can be criticized. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, There is no proof of one true god just as there is no proof of one true morality. According to one interpretation, Marx holds that there is no objectively true moral system, only interest-serving ideologies that use moral language.
What is clear is that the belief in universal ethics is derived from the inclination that culturally defined systems are in some manner inadequate: the source of this inadequacy being essentially the lack of differentiation between thinking something is right or wrong and something actually being right or wrong. Or that the introduction of universal suffrage was immoral?
Hicks John. In this same vain, when we look to another culture and evaluate it favourably, this is often not because, as we believe, it is close to the ideal, applying the universal and absolute morality, but because it is close to our own, applying our culture based morality. Thus, a society can be self-critical by noticing gaps between its practices and its ideals. To the question, which God? They assert, assume, or imply that a state of affairs is good or bad, that an action is right or wrong, or that something is better than something else.
On this view, moral progress is possible, but not relative to objective, trans-cultural criteria. Historical Background a. Moral Relativism: A Reader. Harmen, Gilbert.
Oh, there was a fellow once who came in jeans and a T-shirt. Krausz, Michael, and Meiland, Jack W. Thus, a relativist might condemn laws prohibiting homosexuality in the name of such values as happiness, freedom, and equality. In light of such difficulties, contemporary defenders of descriptive relativism usually prefer a fairly modest, tempered version of the doctrine. But how does one prove this to someone who categorically denies it?
But if there is no neutral point of view from which such changes can be appraised, how can one argue that they constitute progress? The absolutist says that they are to be explained by human ignorance of what the absolute moral standard is. Yet, when we look across cultures, moral codes are diverse, contradictory, and even for outsiders bizarre. Just as there is a bonding between human beings—parents and child, man and wife, friend and friend—which is not learned but innate, a facet of the human condition, so too is there a sense of how to treat those people, and by extension, all people.
Hume, like Montaigne, was heavily influenced by ancient skepticism, and this colors his view of morality. Hare, acknowledges that moral statements can express emotional attitudes but sees their primary function as that of prescribing how people should behave. Or that race based discrimination should be against the letter of the law. Moral Relativism: A Reader. But if the relativist only insists that moral claims are true or false relative to some particular standpoint, then this does not follow.