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December 28, 2011 / compassioninpolitics

More on moral relativism and perspectivalism

This still begs the question of what it means to for truth to the relative (in terms of decisions, ethics, and resolution of conflicts in perspective. Some of which I take up in my answer).

Unfortunately, relativism in its most virulent forms results in “the government doesn’t understand me” and “I alone determine what is right/wrong in my life.” The result is crime, rape, gang activity, genocide, terrorism, and unspeakable government dehuamnization of the people which destroys the ability of others to make the same choices and decisions. By way of an analogy to eye glasses–different glass prescriptions or brands don’t change the fundamental reality of what we are seeing. It means when there is difference between how we perceive them we can talk it out–perhaps among 2 people–perhaps among more (assuming a unresolvable difference between the two). And when I say the “Mona Lisa is a cat”–people can very rightly disagree with that statement. In fact, Johnathan Haidt from the University of Virginia makes an argument for modular morality based on evolution.
This paper (which draws on work by Aristotle, Piaget, Kohlberg, Nussbaum, Sperber, deWaal and others) , develops a version of the thesis here:

The feminist Catherine McKinnon wrote a rather strident critique of these more radical post-modern versions of the truth–which mirrors my thoughts at the top. I like being anti-institutional as the next guy or girl (just ask my grad school profs who had to read my papers). Realtive perspectives don’t erase the fact that I’m human or that telling the truth is important or that there is such a thing such as basic human decency.

One Comment

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  1. T. Lieberman / Dec 29 2011 3:48 am

    Do you believe that adhering to relativist theories results in “crime, rape, gang activity, genocide, terrorism, and unspeakable government dehumanization” in the actual world? Or does it just seem as if that would be a foreseeable outcome? If you know of social studies that demonstrate that this actually happens, please share!

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