A Critique of Ethical Relativism. MT Louis P. Pojman. Objectively. Therefore,. Ethical Relativism is the idea that moral rightness & wrongness. Louis Pojman: Against Relativism and For Objectivism conclusion (which denies moral objectivism) must be true. If moral objectivism must be. View Critique of Relativism from BUL at University of Florida. II. 3 A Critique of Ethical Relativism1 Louis Pojman In this article I first analyze the structure of.

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Why not rape, as well? But why should we choose to view morality this way? Pojman tries to attack this argument. What the relativist needs is a strong thesis of dependency, that somehow all principles are essentially cultural inventions. Pojman must show that one or more of the premises in the argument for relativism is or are false. What is the morally right thing for John to do?

Cultural relativism seems to be a fact, but, even if it is, it does not by itself establish the truth of ethical relativism. The major difference between pro-choicers and pro-lifers is not whether we should kill persons but whether fetuses are really persons.

How about just three? One person may belong to several societies subcultures with different value emphases and arrangements of principles. One Sudanese tribe throws its deformed infants into the river because the tribe believes that such infants belong to the hippopotamus, the god of the river. The two camps are:. John must likewise choose among groups. The fallacy of objecting to a proposition on the erroneous grounds that, if accepted, it will lead to a chain of states of affairs that are absurd or unacceptable.

We may not be able to know with certainty that our moral beliefs are closer to the truth than those of another culture or those of others within our own culture, but we may be justified in believing this about our moral beliefs. It simply shows that the conclusion could be false.


On the other hand, there is enormous cultural diversity, and many societies have radically different moral codes. Beliefs about the shape of the Earth differ across cultures — C1. Notes History of Herodotus; trans.

Louis Pojman: Against Relativism and For Objectivism

As a matter of fact, Pojman thinks it is true. In Europe, politeness to a stranger might mean kissing the stranger on both cheeks. How large must the group be in order to be a legitimate subculture relztivism society?

For example, people from a myriad of language groups come to the United States and learn English and communicate perfectly well. Even if Pojman is successful, showing that the conclusion is not necessarily true does not entail that it is false.

On the other hand, a denial of complete cultural relativism i. Pokman, though we may fear the demise of morality, as we have known it, this in itself may not be a good reason for rejecting relativism — that is, for judging ethica, false.

Even if some indeterminacy of translation exists between language users, we should not infer from this that no translation or communication is possible.

The reason is this: The question no longer makes much sense in this moral Babel. As such, IF the premises are true, the conclusion which denies moral objectivism must be true. Of course, if my partner dies, I could still claim that I was acting from an originally social set of norms.

Does it need ten or fifteen people? Learn how your comment data is pouis.

Nevertheless, the relativists still have at least one more relativis, in their quiver — the argument from the indeterminacy of translation. Relativism would seem to tell us that, if a person belongs to societies with conflicting moralities, then that person must be judge both wrong and not wrong whatever he or she does. Now Pojman realizes that the first premise called P1 in the argument for relativism is not objectionable.

As a matter of fact, they differ.

The conclusion here is NOT necessarily true, even if the premise P1 is true. The nonrelativist can accept a certain relativity in the way moral principles are applied in various cultures, depending on beliefs, history, and environment. Is there anything to recommend the strong thesis of dependency over the weak thesis of dependency? So Pojman allows for P1 to be true, since it does not harm objectivism about morality.


Language groups mean different things by words. We distinguished a weak and a strong thesis of dependency. Therefore, there are no universally valid moral principles, objective standards that ,ouis to all people everywhere and at all times. Although each culture does have a particular language with different meanings — indeed, each person has his or her own particular set of meanings — we do learn foreign languages and learn to translate across linguistic frameworks.

The purpose of morality is to settle interpersonal conflicts. This theory, set forth by Q. Perhaps there is not as much diversity as anthropologists like Sumner and Benedict suppose. The tribe differs with us only in belief, not in substantive moral principle.

A Critique of Ethical Relativism | Papers at

If Mary has an abortion, she is choosing to belong to the general society relative to that principle. But he or she may also belong to a church that opposes some of the laws of the state.

Conventionalism seems perilously close to ethical nihilism. This is an illustration of how nonmoral beliefs e. If you go to various cultures, you will find various different definitions of right and wrong. If you could, then this argument would be conclusive: So Pojman reasons that if this is so, and the argument for relativism using just P1 as a premise has the same form, then the claim that people differ about moral beliefs does not entail that there is no objective answer about what is right and wrong.

Thus, there is no objective right and wrong.

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