Thursday, October 14, 2010 7:15 AM

Moral relativist and Tolerance

Thursday, October 14, 2010 7:15 AM
Thursday, October 14, 2010 7:15 AM

Relativism is judgmental, exclusivist, and partisan. This may seem an odd thing to say since the relativist asserts that his viewpoint is nonjudgmental, inclusivist, and neutral when it comes to moral beliefs. But consider the following.

 First, the relativist says that if you believe in objective moral truth, you are wrong. Hence, relativism is judgmental. Second, it follows that relativism excludes your beliefs from the realm of legitimate options. Thus, relativism is exclusivist. And third, because relativism is exclusive, all nonrelativists are automatically not members of the “correct thinking” party. So relativism is partisan.

 The “tolerance” of moral relativism either condones barbarism or is self-refuting. As I pointed out above, some moral relativists embrace tolerance because they believe that such a posture is appropriate given the diversity of moral and cultural traditions in the world today.

 What if the respected or tolerated culture disrespects and advocates violence against individuals who dissent? When a girl fights to escape female genital circumcision or foot-binding or arranged marriage, when a widow does not want to be burned to death to honor her dead husband, the relativist is obligated to “respect” the cultural or traditional customs from which the individuals are trying to escape. In so doing, the relativist is not merely disrespecting the individual but effectively endorsing the moral ground for torture, rape and murder. On moral issues, ethical relativists cannot possibly remain neutral—they are committed either to the individual or to the dominant force within a culture.

 Relativists have made explicit one central value—equal respect and tolerance of other ways of life, which they insist to be absolute and universal. Ethical relativism is thus repudiated by itself. The professed tolerant are definitely not tolerant.

[1] Geisler, N. L., & Hoffman, P. K. (2001). Why I am a Christian : Leading thinkers explain why they believe (13). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

« back