Phi Beta Cons

A Word about Moral Relativism

Some articles I’ve read using the term moral relativism prompt me to clarify: Moral relativism does not mean you don’t believe in anything. It means you don’t believe there is an objective or transcendent order higher than your beliefs. Theoretically, the moral relativist believes that each person is entitled to his own beliefs and no set of beliefs carries any more worth than any other.

But in practice, the moral relativist posits that idea in order to keep others quiet, while pushing his own beliefs with all the power he can muster. That is why the academy today is ruled by rigid left-wing ideas, even as it supposedly promotes tolerance. As one of the masters of moral relativism, Benito Mussolini, put it: ”Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism, by intuition. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology, and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories, and men who claim to be the bearers of an objective immortal truth, then there is nothing more relativistic than fascism.” (Emphasis added.)

The idea of “objective immortal truth” is actually a protection against being jerked around by intellectual bullies. So if someone tells you truth is relative, it’s a sure bet that he’s imposing his truth on you.

Moral relativism is actually the pretty much the same thing as nihilism, but the term moral relativism sounds milder than the word nihilism.


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