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Analytical Essay on the Theory and Essence of Relativism

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There is a lot of controversies when it comes to ethics and what is morally right and wrong. So, over the years many people have tried to create theories in order to bring some clarity but I feel this has only bought on more complications and disputes. In this essay I will be discussing the theory of relativism, this theory is subjective. On the contrary ethical objectivism is the view that some moral standards are objectively correct and that some moral claims are objectively true (Shafer-Landau, 294). The theory of relativism means that the truth is autonomous to the view of each person which is conflicting and contradictory. Approaching any ethical theory using relativism is a recipe for disaster, essentially both parties will go into the issue being technically right, therefore, there would be no resolve. I will exhibit that relativism is ludicrous and should not be considered as a viable theory considering it eradicates the concept of right and wrong. All things considered we can still have a judgment on what is morally right as regards to gay-marriage which I will dispute in this essay as I feel that it is against nature to be gay and allowing gay marriage only promoting and normalizes it but morally a person should be allowed to do as they wish as long as it is not hurting anyone.

Moral relativism is that each person’s truth is right relative to the perception of them, that everyone’s opinion holds the same value despite a person’s age, knowledge or history so you could have a ten-year-old and a fifty-year-old and according to the law of relativism both their opinions on a given subject are equal. Therefore, everyone’s truth may be different but all those truths are right. Some popular relativism expressions such as “What’s appropriate for may not be what’s ideal for me”, and “The standards that are appropriate for some people may not be appropriate for others” (Shafer-Landau, n.d.) Or “each to their own”, all these expressions advocate for moral relativism. That one person’s views are no better or worse than another’s or that a person’s way of life is only right as it is right to them.

Relativism is subjective which means that truth is determined based on the individual beliefs of a person. True, right, and good are all respectful of each person’s perspective and ethics is the study of these things so essentially everyone is right all the time as we all can have our own correct perspective consequently there is no use of facts, evidence, reason, experience or logic.

At the other end of the spectrum is moral absolutism which is objective and believes that no matter the situation that there are certain things that are morally right or wrong furthermore believes that these rules are set in stone and that everyone should follow these laws. Despite a person’s background, culture or society these moral or immoral actions must be adhered to. This can cause a lot of disagreements as not everyone is going to agree on these moral truths because most moral values will vary depending on religion, country, culture, and even knowledge. This clash of moral right and wrongs can cause absolutism to fail so people then tend the fall straight to relativism rather than finding a middle ground. An example of a moral truth that could be universally agreed upon is “treat people how you wish to be treated” but within this expression, a different religion or culture will have a different view on how people should be treated which could create a contradiction. Absolutism is the opposite to relativism as absolutism advocates moral right and wrongs for all whereas relativism denies this theory and holds the value that we all have our own perspectives and they are right. Relativism can be true and relative is some instances for example things like taste, an opinion of whether something tastes nice or not is objective as one thing can be nice to some and not nice to someone else. Another example could be beauty, a common saying is “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” this is true whether its regarding a person or an object, people see beauty in different ways making it relativistic.

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One of the main criticisms of relativism is moral infallibility, this means that by the laws of relativism everyone is right and you can not make a moral mistake, therefore, killing to a relativist is not morally wrong in fact it would be right as you can’t make a moral mistake. Moral infallibility makes every individual person the judge of moral matters (Belvedere, Berny) so if morality is in the eye or the beholder then everyone is seeing things equally (Shafer-Landau, 298). According to relativism the act of murder, rape, slavery, and racism are all right as you can do nothing wrong.

Another big criticism is moral equivalence, the belief that everyone’s basic moral views are as plausible as everyone else’s. (Shafer-Landau, 299). This makes no sense to me, no matter a person’s educational background or knowledge of a given subject or age, a person who has no understanding or previous involvement in this subject has the same value of opinion as the person who has studied or lived a life of experiences. As well as opinions on subjects, actions are also seen as equal for example if ethical subjectivism is correct then the moral outlooks of Hitler and Stalin are just as plausible as those of a Noble Peace laureate (Shafer-Landau, 299). As you can see this is crazy and nonsensical and should not even be considered a feasible moral theory to evaluate moral issues.

Finally, the problem with contradiction (Shafer-Landau,301). When approaching a problem both parties would be right about any view they have thus making the other person have to agree that a person with an opposite view is right. Therefore, making relativism a contradiction as both sides of an ethical issue can not both be right, this is why relativism is a ridiculous theory and it will never solve any ethical problem as everyone will be right.

As a moral argument, I will be talking about is gay-marriage, gay-marriage was legalized in all fifty states on June 26, 2015 (Wikipedia). I think morally this is a hard issue to deal with as this issue isn’t hurting anyone but then again, they cannot naturally procreate which I believe is one of our main purposes of living. So, is same-sex marriages right or wrong? I believe it is wrong like I said same-sex couples could not reproduce meaning they would have to adopt and once gay marriage has been legalized there was an increase in the number of same-sex couples, in 2014 there was 183,280, and rose roughly 40% in 2015 to 250,450 according to same-sex married tax filers after Windsor and Obergefell (Robin Fisher). If there was to be a consistent increase then there would be more and more same-sex couples and less reproduction. Also, traditionally children need to be raised by both a mother and father, girls who are raised apart from their fathers are reportedly at higher risk for early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy (Bruce J. Ellis), this is just one of many issues that comes with being without both parents. This is an issue that could be avoided by not legalizing gay marriages also it can lead to what they call a “slippery slope,” where people will start to favor other nontraditional relationships such as polyamorous relationships the right to marry, and ruining the tradition of marriage. Gay marriage is also against the word of god in many religions as stated in the bible in Leviticus 18:22, ‘Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination,'(Leviticus). These is the words from ancient texts and now we are choosing to go against what is right and natural, you cannot dispute what is natural and therefore gay marriages should not be legalized.

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