Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What's Wrong with I.E.R. (3 & 4)

Two more things that make moral relativism seem unreasonable...

A moral relativist cannot place blame or give or accept praise. Without a standard against which to judge any action, such things are meaningless concepts. To a consistent moral relativist, the behavior of both Hitler and Mother Theresa are equally beyond criticism or praise. And while relativists may like the idea that they themselves are above being blamed, they must likewise live with the fact that they are forever unable to receive praise. Remember, right and wrong, good and bad, are nonexistent on this view, and so nothing the moral relativist does (and nothing her children do) can be seen as praiseworthy. So, if you have a friend who espouses moral relativism but then you catch her praising her kids (for cleaning their room, helping an elderly widow, or graduating from college), you should call her on her inconsistency.

In like manner, concepts like fairness, justice, and their opposites have no meaning within moral relativism. The moral relativist cannot object when someone cuts in line and gets the last ticket. What's more, he can only view the legal system (enforcement officers, courts, and prisons) as some sort of arbitrary societal machine that ultimately limits every individual's right to live by his own moral rules.

Ridiculous, isn't it? That's why nobody lives consistently according to this view. It's also why philosophers (logicians) almost universally reject moral relativism. But I'm not finished--there are even more good reasons for rejecting relativism in favor of moral objectivism.


Anonymous said...

Do people really ascribe to stuff like this? Seems to be an exercise in futility.

Rick Gerhardt said...

Good question. I think for most people, it sounds tolerant to espouse this view, but they obviously haven't thought it through at all. Professors of anthropology and sociology get away with filling their students minds with it, but then they tend not to have any rigorous background in logic.