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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Beliefs about what is right and wrong differ across cultures — C1. If two or three people decide to make cheating on exams morally acceptable for themselves, via forming a fraternity, Cheaters Anonymous, at their university, then cheating becomes moral. Cultural relativism seems to be a fact, but, even if it is, it does not by itself establish the truth of ethical relativism.

For even if we did find one or more universal principles, this would not prove that they had any objective status. This is an illustration of how nonmoral beliefs e. The purpose of morality is to settle interpersonal conflicts. Perhaps there is not as much diversity as anthropologists like Sumner and Benedict suppose. If this is so, then the indeterminacy-of-translation thesis, which relativism rests on, must itself be relativized to the point at which it is no objection to objective morality.

Clearly P2 entails relativism about morality. Clearly, then, the worrisome premise is P2, called the dependency thesis. If so, no better argument for that conclusion can be given. Subjectivism seems to boil down to anarchistic individualism, an essential denial of the interpersonal feature of the moral point of view; and conventionalism, which does contain an interpersonal perspective, fails to deal adequately with the problem of the reformer, the question of defining a culture, and the whole enterprise of moral criticism.


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. The tribe differs with us only in belief, not in substantive moral principle. The two camps are:.

Pojman recognizes that this is a valid argument. The major difference between pro-choicers and pro-lifers is not whether we should kill persons but whether fetuses are really persons. If it must be true, then the claim that there is no objective right and wrong cannot be true.

On the other hand, there is enormous cultural diversity, and many societies have radically different moral codes. This theory, set forth by B.

Louis Pojman: Against Relativism and For Objectivism

If P2 is true, then C1 cannot be false. We can reason and perform thought experiments in order to oof a case for one system over another.

A person may belong to the nation as a single society with certain values of patriotism, honor, courage, and laws including some that are controversial but have majority acceptance, such as the current law on abortion. The question no longer makes much sense in this moral Babel.

Conventionalism seems perilously close to ethical nihilism. The objectivist could concede complete cultural relativism but still defend a form of universalism; for he or she could argue that some cultures simply lack correct moral principles. Cultural diversity in itself is neutral with respect to theories.


And two people cannot be in disagreement about their feelings. Nevertheless, the relativists still have at least one more arrow in their quiver — the argument from the indeterminacy of translation.

Louis Pojman destroys relativism – Philosophical Investigations

If Mary has an critiquee, she is choosing to belong to the general society relative to that principle. Notes History of Herodotus; trans. Conclusion Ethical relativism — the thesis that moral principles derive their validity from dependence on society or individual choice — seems plausible at first od, but on close scrutiny it presents some severe problems. What is the morally right thing for John to do? Morality does not occur in a vacuum, but rather what a society considers morally right or wrong must be seen in a context, depending on the goals, wants, beliefs, history, and environment of that society.

Nevertheless, unless moral objectivism can make a positive case for its position, relativism may survive these criticisms.

This move saves the conventionalist from moral solipsism, but it still permits almost any principle at all to count as moral.