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Moral Truth: Absolute or Relative?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/13/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 858 times Debate No: 23576
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




Resolved: Does absolute truth exist or is all truth relative? (Moral Relativism)

Opponent: This is an OPEN DEBATE. First to accept will represent Con.

Debate Parameters:
The affirmative of this debate will argue that absolute moral truths exist
The negation will argue that all moral truth is relative
No arguments will be brought up in the first round of debate. Round 1 is reserved for greetings, definitions and clarification.
Each side has 48hours to post its next argument.
Please do not vote for yourself at the end of this debate. Leave voting to voters.

Definitions: Truth- Conformity to fact or actuality.

Criterion: In order for the affirmation to win this debate, they must prove that an absolute moral truth exists. In order for the negation to win this debate they must prove that no absolute moral truths exist.

Background: This topic has just come up in one of my classes and is a project that will account for a great amount of our grades. I'd like to test the strength of my argument here and see if there's anything I need to add or change. Please be clear, concise and logical in your arguments and refutations. Thank you and good luck!


I will accept this debate and argue that all morality is relative.
Debate Round No. 1


Axiom: The world is spherical. However, up until about 300B.C.E. in Ancient Greece it was universally believed that the world was flat. Did this change the truth that the world is round? No, in fact it does not. That truth was absolute; unchanging. The stance of total relativism would have you believe that simply because everyone believed that the Earth was flat, that was the truth, that simply because you don't understand something it doesn't exist! Because of this, relativists have conceded that there are absolute scientific truths. However, this debate is not concerning scientific truths but rather moral ones. In order to do this we must recognize that there are different kinds of truth. I posit that there are scientific truths that must conform to fact or actuality, and cultural truths that govern human behavior and is proven to be or accepted as true. In this paper I will first analyze flaws with the relativist view, and then prove the existence of an absolute moral truth.

Relativism is incorrect firstly because in order to prove it the negation would have to prove a universal negative. In order to prove a universal negative they would have to know and analyze every situation, action, and decision possible and prove it to be relative. Based on the axiom that no human has omniscience, this is impossible to do. Therefore, it is impossible to prove that there is only relative truth.

Secondly, relativism leads to a dangerous slippery slope. Axiom: All humans encounter struggle and temptation in their lives that threatens to lead them astray from their ethical and moral values. Relativism is based on the idea that it is up to a person or group to decide what is morally right and wrong for themselves. This provides a way for people to fall to temptation and justify it as morally right. An example of how this is clearly flawed is the holocaust. By reason of relativism, because the Germans believed that the extermination of Jews, blacks, Romani, Soviets, Poles, Jehovah's Witnesses, and many other ethnic minorities was the right thing to do, it was indeed morally right. However, throughout history it has been proven again and again that genocide is always immoral and wrong.

As people, we must recognize that there are things that we cannot understand. Axiom: Something exists. Any attempt to refute this axiom simply proves it. If you can think in order to refute it, you therefore exist. It could even be argued that we don't exist, but are simply a simulation or part of something else, but even then something has to exist. We do not need to comprehend what this thing is for it to exist, it simply exists. Morality works in much of the same way. What humans do or believe is irrelevant to what is morally right or wrong. Even if morality is a human created concept that does not mean that humans can comprehend or understand it.

And finally, I will prove that there exist at least one absolute moral truth. Axiom: All humans are endowed with certain unalienable rights, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I will use this axiom to prove that the rape of a child is always wrong. I have defined a child as a human from the time of birth until they enter puberty. I have also defined rape as the forcing of one person onto another sexually and without the consent of the other party. To force sex onto a child would violate their rights to happiness and liberty, and possibly their right to life. In addition to this, based on the definition of child it would be impossible to reproduce with a child, and hence there are zero gains to the rape of a child. Therefore, because the rape of a child has zero advantages to either child or rapist and it violates basic human rights, the rape of a child is always wrong.


Moral relativism does not equal absolute relativism. If a statement is not applicable in some situations, one should not conclude that it is applicable in no situations. Therefore the objection of 'total relativism' is irrelevant.

Concerning your second point of how relativism requires knowledge of all: Relativism in itself is not a proposition of a negation, it is the positing of the necessary relationship between Xs existence and the mind. Therefore if proving relativism requires omniscience, then it is also required when proving objectivism. This is not a valid argument against either of these cases.

So far you have simply loosely exchanged absolute relativism of truth (which is inherently contradictory) and moral relativism. Mind you, these are different propositions.

The first objecting raised against actual moral relativism not only necessitates the proof that moral objectivism is valid but also steps into the grounds of Godwin's Law, which, dependant on which audience you are speaking to, is negative. Moral relativism is not proved to be wrong by different theories on morality, just as moral objectivism is not proved to be wrong by different theories on morality.
The purported 'slippery slope' would, based on your explanation, exist regardless of objective or relative morality. If a person's emotion or instinctual state is so grotesque as to produce a justification for the wanted actions, then frankly it would be not convincing to the person if a reasonable argument was made for moral objectivism, since it is not longer their rationality guiding them but simply their emotions.

The existence of concepts and ideas are by definition relative to the existence of the mind and are therefore are relative.

Your last point is not relevant as it is an implementation of a moral theory not a rationalization for what those moral theories are based on.

To shine a clearer light upon moral relativism, I will prove it to be true:

A moral theory requires a preferred state or goal. A preferred state or goal necessitates the of a mind to put the goal at its interest. The definition of relativism is exactly this, mind dependant. If the mind would not exist then nor would these goals, much unlike the objective existence of a rock, which is there regardless of a mind. Ergo morality necessarily consists of moral relativism not moral objectivism.
Debate Round No. 2


RedJohn745 forfeited this round.


Nothing new will be added since my opponent forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


RedJohn745 forfeited this round.


Opponent could not post because of 'studies'.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by RedJohn745 1 year ago
I need to focus on studies through Finals. I will repost this debate in June. I apologize for the inconvenience.
Posted by RedJohn745 1 year ago
I apologize for my inability to respond in round 3. I was swarmed with work, I will respond in round 4 as soon as possible.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Nur-Ab-Sal 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct and arguments go to Con for Pro's forfeit.