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Is morality relative?
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Moral norms change depending on the culture and time period

Times have changed and humanity's conception of morality has changed along with it. Morality is far from static, continuously shifting to match its social and historical context.

The Argument

Times have changed and humanity’s idea of morality has changed along with them. Certain things we consider perfectly normal would be deemed unacceptable a few hundred years ago, from gay marriage to contraception to atheism to racial equality. Similarly, actions we would consider heinous crimes today were condoned during their times, from the Crusades to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the Salem Witch Trials. Evidently, mankind has not always held a consistent moral code-so it seems that moral relativists have it right. According to moral relativists, morality is not a consistent set of rules that exists in a vacuum. There is no fixed definition of “right” or “wrong.” Rather, morality relies on time and place, defined entirely by social context. () In other words, it is relative, not absolute. What we consider to be wrong today may have been right a hundred years ago, or it may be right a hundred years in the future. Though it might be tempting to look back at history and condemn past cultures' versions of morality as corrupt, we must first realize that we are operating from a set of moral assumptions that has been instilled in us by our culture. The values that we consider to be “good” or “bad” today are not reflections of some external, absolute moral truth. Instead, they are simply our current culture’s conception of morality, and they are not necessarily “better” or “worse” than those of any other society.

Counter arguments

This argument asserts that there is no such thing as objective good or evil, thus allowing for a “different strokes” approach to what most people would consider moral atrocities. According to a moral relativist, we should do nothing to address the blatant fascism in North Korea or child sex trafficking in Thailand, simply because their culture’s version of morality is different than ours. Likewise, we cannot condemn the horrors of the past such as slavery. By claiming every society’s assessment of morality is equally acceptable, we not only allow but perpetuate cycles of injustice, and immorality. Furthermore, the assertion that no moral rules can be fairly applied to the whole of humanity is, in itself, a moral rule being applied to the whole of humanity.



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Saturday, 1 Aug 2020 at 18:46 UTC

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