Relativism Watch

figuresk8rstudent
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Who finds this argument persuasive?

I personally don't as I find it hard to believe, in one person's lifetime, they do not inhibit any objective opinions that may arise and that all is subjective.

What do you think are the dangers of relativism?

I think if the treatment of a person, who has murdered someone for no reason, is decided upon a person's own ruling of murders is rather scary.

Thoughts appreciated. Ps I'm very new to learning about Ethics :-D



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Nashiboy123
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relativism is ok when one has not yet come across the objective truth, but there are overwhelming truths [although they may not be decisive without divine revelation] that is generally accepted by everyone and people should adhere to them, such as murder is wrong
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Jebedee
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Logic goes out of the window completely with relativism.
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StarvingAutist
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Relativism is pretty accurate. Though some kind of ethics must be genetic; natural selection etc.
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uberteknik
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Ewwwwwww. Jiggy-jiggy with your cousins is just wrong. :borat:
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Harolinho
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(Original post by uberteknik)
Ewwwwwww. Jiggy-jiggy with your cousins is just wrong. :borat:
Tell that to the 19 States of America in which first-cousin marriage is legally acceptable.

(Original post by StarvingAutist)
Relativism is pretty accurate. Though some kind of ethics must be genetic; natural selection etc.
Sure, but then everyone's genetics are different and if ethics may stem from the genetics of an individual then naturally genetic inputs into the morality of individuals is entirely relative.

(Original post by Jebedee)
Logic goes out of the window completely with relativism.
Care to expand upon this statement?

(Original post by Nashiboy123)
relativism is ok when one has not yet come across the objective truth, but there are overwhelming truths [although they may not be decisive without divine revelation] that is generally accepted by everyone and people should adhere to them, such as murder is wrong
How can you suggest that a truth is objective if you are but a subject considering a limited set of available information?
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uberteknik
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(Original post by Harolinho)
Tell that to the 19 States of America in which first-cousin marriage is legally acceptable.
By the same argument, jiggy-jiggy with your pets is also not outlawed in 18 States of America. Still doesn't make it right.
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Harolinho
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(Original post by uberteknik)
By the same argument, jiggy-jiggy with your pets is also not outlawed in 18 States of America. Still doesn't make it right.
Sure, but evidently some people don't find these things morally compromising. The majority might, but are ethical standards dictated by mob-rule?
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Nashiboy123
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(Original post by Harolinho)
Tell that to the 19 States of America in which first-cousin marriage is legally acceptable.



Sure, but then everyone's genetics are different and if ethics may stem from the genetics of an individual then naturally genetic inputs into the morality of individuals is entirely relative.



Care to expand upon this statement?



How can you suggest that a truth is objective if you are but a subject considering a limited set of available information?
that's right truth is subjective without divine revelation, but once divine revelation reaches one, we can know for sure what is good, bad, wrong right as God tells us so
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Monkey.Man
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in my opinion, you need to be as objective as possible - for example, relativism can potentially treat people as nothing but agents, or enablers of others, opposed to means in themselves, as if to say they are worthless and exist for the service of others. for example, relativism, objective, can justify the murder of people if the overwhelming majority don't like them - is that moral? should we declare that it is moral to murder people you don't like if you have a mob behind you? if we look to objectivism, you have to the look at aim of an act, or its purpose, or the relationship it creates between the actor and the object - is it based on logical or ethical principles? obviously pleasure is good and should bee the goal of individuals alone, but pain against others can't be justified, principally, simply because they aren't serving your interests - people aren't slaves and shouldn't be told to do whatever the relative majority wants
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Jizzle88
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(Original post by Monkey.Man)
in my opinion, you need to be as objective as possible - for example, relativism can potentially treat people as nothing but agents, or enablers of others, opposed to means in themselves, as if to say they are worthless and exist for the service of others. for example, relativism, objective, can justify the murder of people if the overwhelming majority don't like them - is that moral? should we declare that it is moral to murder people you don't like if you have a mob behind you? if we look to objectivism, you have to the look at aim of an act, or its purpose, or the relationship it creates between the actor and the object - is it based on logical or ethical principles? obviously pleasure is good and should bee the goal of individuals alone, but pain against others can't be justified, principally, simply because they aren't serving your interests - people aren't slaves and shouldn't be told to do whatever the relative majority wants
I beg to differ old chap.

Relativism is the position that there is no objective truth, truth itself is relative. Relativist thinking is quite the opposite of what you describe, it is distinctly anti-majoritarian in flavour: a relativist believes that truth is subjective and through this reflexive analysis paradigmatically de-stabilizes how we perceive the foundational implications of 'truth' and thus undermines the dominance of the logo-centric and discursive construction of an absolute and objective 'truth' that the majority/most powerful use to determine the 'rules' of the game.

You are cobbling together deontology, hedonism, utilitarianism and libertarian objectivism into a some form of ideological position against a 'straw man' version of relativism.

If you want to rebut relativism, simply use the self refutation argument.
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Monkey.Man
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(Original post by Jizzle88)
I beg to differ old chap.

Relativism is the position that there is no objective truth, truth itself is relative. Relativist thinking is quite the opposite of what you describe, it is distinctly anti-majoritarian in flavour: a relativist believes that truth is subjective and through this reflexive analysis paradigmatically de-stabilizes how we perceive the foundational implications of 'truth' and thus undermines the dominance of the logo-centric and discursive construction of an absolute and objective 'truth' that the majority/most powerful use to determine the 'rules' of the game.

You are cobbling together deontology, hedonism, utilitarianism and libertarian objectivism into a some form of ideological position against a 'straw man' version of relativism.

If you want to rebut relativism, simply use the self refutation argument.
what I was getting at is that if you recognise a principle (any principle; by objective, obviously I didn't mean factually objective because values aren't verifiable) and believe it to be good, then thinking that a contradictory principle is also good is, obviously, contradictiory. e.g. if we thought "individual rights are a good thing" but then said "we need to tax people really high against their rights of wealth to stop people going poor" there is clearly a conflict of what we consider good - it's either we conclude that our value system doesn't make sense and is based on bias, or we stick with either individualism or collectivism as a principally good value etc

for example, relativism is based somewhat on how the times change; our values can differ from age to age (allegedly), but if you follow an objective basis, e.g. "individual pleasure is good", which, as a principle, can exist in any time period, then that isn't based on relativism, that's based on objective principles not based on culture but realistically on something universal. we could, right now, consider incest to be completely fine (although I doubt many people in society would because they're determined by cultural relativism causing them today to not treat incest with the same sympathies of other culturally oppressed things such as homosexuality) through objective principles (and again by objective I merely mean consistent through a value system to support one approach over many contradicting ones, e.g. individualism and collectivism, or freedom and slavery) we could now say that incest is, again, fine. maybe we have a different understanding of the word objective; I don't mean absolutist; I don't consider hurting someone always wrong, e.g. if it is in self defence then that's pretty clearly a different thing altogether. by objective, I mean sticking to principles that don't vary based on how my opinion of something is negative; I don't divert from individualistic hedonism as an objective (e.g. a polygamous relationships) simply because I disprove of it in my own life or even someone else's, whereas, clearly, many in society will say "it's all fine as long as nobody gets hurt" but then if it's something like polygamy then suddenly that objective principle fades away into "if I don't like it, we should ban it" etc
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Jizzle88
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(Original post by Monkey.Man)
what I was getting at is that if you recognise a principle (any principle; by objective, obviously I didn't mean factually objective because values aren't verifiable) and believe it to be good, then thinking that a contradictory principle is also good is, obviously, contradictiory. e.g. if we thought "individual rights are a good thing" but then said "we need to tax people really high against their rights of wealth to stop people going poor" there is clearly a conflict of what we consider good - it's either we conclude that our value system doesn't make sense and is based on bias, or we stick with either individualism or collectivism as a principally good value etc

for example, relativism is based somewhat on how the times change; our values can differ from age to age (allegedly), but if you follow an objective basis, e.g. "individual pleasure is good", which, as a principle, can exist in any time period, then that isn't based on relativism, that's based on objective principles not based on culture but realistically on something universal. we could, right now, consider incest to be completely fine (although I doubt many people in society would because they're determined by cultural relativism causing them today to not treat incest with the same sympathies of other culturally oppressed things such as homosexuality) through objective principles (and again by objective I merely mean consistent through a value system to support one approach over many contradicting ones, e.g. individualism and collectivism, or freedom and slavery) we could now say that incest is, again, fine. maybe we have a different understanding of the word objective; I don't mean absolutist; I don't consider hurting someone always wrong, e.g. if it is in self defence then that's pretty clearly a different thing altogether. by objective, I mean sticking to principles that don't vary based on how my opinion of something is negative; I don't divert from individualistic hedonism as an objective (e.g. a polygamous relationships) simply because I disprove of it in my own life or even someone else's, whereas, clearly, many in society will say "it's all fine as long as nobody gets hurt" but then if it's something like polygamy then suddenly that objective principle fades away into "if I don't like it, we should ban it" etc
What you are referring to is called cognitive dissonance, when two simultaneously held beliefs are in contradiction, psychologically, human beings tend not to like this. In the coherentist paradigm, we can hold these beliefs as long as they do not come into contact with one another.
Dichotomizing ideologies into binary oppositions into left/right, good/bad, collective/individualist, etc. is false, there is an entire spectrum between these positions that are rarely referred to. Relativist thinking contextualizes these problems and fosters the creation of a third space between ideologies in which constructive and democratic dialogue can exist.

Our values do differ from age to age, this much is obvious if you briefly compare contemporary value system with any other epoch throughout the entire narrative of history.

Maximizing pleasure, minimizing pain is part of the human condition, in psychology its called the maximum pleasure principle, in philosophy its hedonism, in economics its called rational choice theory. Objectivism is simply a philosophy that places this mechanism at the center of generating meaning for the agent. I personally think that this is an over simplification, human beings are complex, the various pleasures and pains are infinitely hierarchical and how we perceive, strive for and obtain our goals and indeed what we receive from them differentiate wildly from agent to agent. I would personally argue that there generally other psychological/social mechanisms at play than self interest for example: an instinctive sense of justice, reciprocity, empathy, sympathy. That should be fostered and developed to counter the destructive capacities of self interest.

I think I understand your conception of objectivity: a development upon the 3 (self evident) axioms of Ayn Rand which follows the consequential argument that the key axiom that human beings operate by is subjectively pursued self interest.

You have essentially argued a full circle, absolute ethical relativism through objectivism.
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Jizzle88
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(Original post by figuresk8rstudent)
Who finds this argument persuasive?

I personally don't as I find it hard to believe, in one person's lifetime, they do not inhibit any objective opinions that may arise and that all is subjective.

What do you think are the dangers of relativism?

I think if the treatment of a person, who has murdered someone for no reason, is decided upon a person's own ruling of murders is rather scary.

Thoughts appreciated. Ps I'm very new to learning about Ethics :-D



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I come at relativism from a constructivist and slightly epistemological angle.

All is not subjective, all is subjectively interpreted and this interperative filter distorts perceptions of objective truth, especially in ethics.

Sociologically speaking; Societal norms, social conditioning and bourdieu's notion of habitus, give quite a good account of explain this interpretative filter is constructed. The fact that social conditioning and norms vary from culture to culture totally undermine the notion of ethical objectivity and supports relativist thinking.

To claim that our contemporary western value system are the true system of ethics, is total fallacy. Our ethics have evolved to this stage, and will continue to change. At every stage of this process agents subject to these ideological systems believe their ethical paradigms to be the 'true one' it is thus apparent that ethicalsystems are largely defined by the social environment of an agent.

The main purported danger of relativism, in terms of ethics, is nihilism: because there is no objective conception of right or wrong, it does'nt matter if they commit attrocities.

I personally believe this to be largely inaccurate, humans are social beings and reciprocity and an intuitive sense of justice plays a large part in how we interact. Nihilistic behaviour like that of the murderer you describe, in my opinion, is a trait of a psycho/sociopath and not that of a relativist.

Relativism's Achilles heel, is that it can be construed as self-refuting. Meaning that the relative perspective, is itself relative and thus not an absolute truth. This position is quite crude in my opinion, more concerning for the relativist is argumentation with their philosophical opposite, the absolutist, who by rights is totally within their rights to reject relativism through its own methods.
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