Ethical Relativism


Ethical relativism is the theory that there is no absolute universal rule on the moral rectitude of society. Consequently, it is argued that the ethical performance of an individual depends on or is relative to the society to which he belongs. It is also called epistemological relativism, since its basic idea is that there are no universal truths about the world, only different ways of interpreting it. . This goes back to Greek philosophy, where they worked with the phrase “man is the measure of all things.”

In the Ancient Antennas, the sophists were famous relativists, such as Protagoras of Abdera, who said that man was the one who imposed things to his measure, therefore the important thing was to achieve a just and dignified life without trying to seek. be. The apogee of relativism is reached by the sophist Gorgias, who in his treatise “On Not Being” denies the validity of language and the possibility of attaining knowledge. This point of view was opposed by Socrates and Plato, defenders of objectivism.

Ethical relativism concludes that morality is greatly influenced by the social conventions that occur in a given culture and show the customs of a people. From this point of view, to understand the morality of a people, it is convenient to pay attention to their own traditions. Some traditions that are not universal but specific to a specific place.

Ethical relativism relativizes even the most important moral principles. One of them, the principle of justice that is basic to maintain social order. Far from believing in objective principles that can have universal validity, on the contrary, ethical relativism shows the power of subjectivity and the personal point of view.

What is considered morally right and wrong varies from one society to another, so that there are no universal moral standards, we can say that some of the characteristics of ethical relativism are the following:

  • Whether or not it is correct for an individual to act in a certain way depends on or is relative to the society to which he belongs.
  • There are no absolute or objective moral standards that apply to all people everywhere and at all times.
  • Ethical relativism holds that even beyond environmental factors and differences in beliefs, there are fundamental disagreements between societies. In a sense, we all live in radically different worlds.

  • Each person has a set of beliefs and experiences, a particular perspective that colors all their perceptions.
  • Their different orientations, values, and expectations govern their perceptions, so different aspects are highlighted and some features are missed. Even when our individual values ​​arise from personal experience, social values ​​are based on the peculiar history of the community.