Why Moral Relativism Doesn’t Work

One of the most concise definitions of moral relativism that I have found comes from the Free Dictionary, by Farlex, and reads as follows.

The philosophized notion that right and wrong are not absolute values, but are personalized according to the individual and his or her circumstances or cultural orientation. It can be used positively to effect change in the law (e.g., promoting tolerance for other customs or lifestyles) or negatively as a means to attempt justification for wrongdoing or lawbreaking. The opposite of moral relativism is moral absolutism, which espouses a fundamental, Natural Law of constant values and rules, and which judges all persons equally, irrespective of individual circumstances or cultural differences.

Moral relativists claim that morals are not absolute. That society and individuals simply construct those morals that are best suited for a particular situation. Those who embrace the modernist or naturalist worldview believe that our morals are simply the product of DNA programming and that we have absolutely no choice in the morals that we have been given. In their opinion, one’s morals are simply instinctive, and serve to ensure their reproduction and survival.

The moral relativist imagines that we can simply choose the morals that best suit us at any given moment. They believe that there are no ultimate governing standards such as God’s laws, which serve as the compass for all moral actions.

The problem with this theory is that it simply does not work in the real world. For instance, when a person says “there are no moral absolutes,” they have already contradicted their belief, because they are making an absolute statement.

We use objective rational in a court of law, science, and other disciplines of life. However when it comes to morals people imagine that they can simply claim that all things are relative.

Let me give you an example of the erroneous idea of this belief in the real world. If I were to steal your cell phone you would claim that you had been wronged wouldn’t you? In doing so you are making a moral judgment that stealing is wrong. In order to make this judgment you must believe that it is wrong to take something from someone else without their permission wouldn’t you?

But what if I said that I had every right to take your phone, because all things are relative? What if I claimed that to me it was perfectly fine to take anything I wanted from you, because it served my personal interest to do so?

Truth and morals must correspond with the real world, and are not merely the making of our own personal preference. The moral relativist is deluded into believing that he or she can simply choose whatever morals they imagine that best serves them at any given moment apart from any universal standard of right and wrong. While this may sound good in theory it simply does not work in the real world.


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