Monday, August 20, 2007

The Self-Refuting Nature of Relativism

I've spent the last couple of weeks discussing moral relativism and the redefining of tolerance. Those who have followed along will have seen for themselves just how illogical (dare I say silly?) these postmodern views are. Those who hold these views do so uncritically--had they thought very deeply about them, they would quickly have come up against the contradictory and self-refuting nature of these sorts of claims.

Lest this is not obvious, let me relate a sample dialogue, one that begins with a ubiquitous, almost-daily-heard assertion. (We'll designate the asserter "PM" for "Postmodernist" and his interlocutor "Oddball," a nickname for "Independent, Critical Thinker.")
PM: It's wrong to judge another person!

Oddball: Then why are you judging me?
Or, as a slight variant,
PM: Nobody should push their morality on any one else.

Oddball: That seems to be your morality. Why are you pushing it?
Again, there are two contrary views here. Either moral relativism is an accurate account of the world in which we live or moral objectivism is true. And because relativism has the many fatal flaws about which I've been posting, philosophers are virtually unanimous in rejecting it. That is, the people who think logically recognize the bankruptcy of the postmodern position regarding morality and tolerance. This includes not only Christians (and other theists) but philosophers of every metaphysical stance. (Christians and other theists attribute the objective moral code to a transcendent Lawgiver, while atheists ground it in evolution or human nature.)

Nonetheless, moral relativism is the spirit of the age, and is taught in public schools and universities, through television, radio, and movies, and is accepted uncritically by most of our culture, much to our shame and further ignorance.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your blog series on moral relativism. These two words used side by side are even somewhat contradictory and a shame that we have these seemingly obvious flawed ideas taught to our children on a daily basis in our culture and more importantly in our schools. I heard an interesting analogy on the radio the other day that said while people seem to think we still live in a Judeo-Christian society, we really are living in more of a Greco-Roman culture and need to do all we can to reinfuse our Christian values and heritage back into the world in which we live. It are these types of postmodernist theories that only perpetuate the immoral destructive path we seem to be on.

Rick Gerhardt said...


Thanks for the comment. I agree completely. You'd find this interview interesting. It's with David Klinghoffer, Seattlelite and author of Shattered Tablets: Why We Ignore the Ten Commandments at Our Peril. (It's probably not linked, and you'll have to cut and paste to your browser.)