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Morality is not Relative

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/19/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,118 times Debate No: 34904
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




Moral Relativism refers to the idea that moral/ethical codes vary from culture to culture and also in periods of time. However, after great analysis of this theory, one may find that this is false. Firstly, within the theory is the Cultural Differences Argument which simply states that there are differences in morals codes between cultures. This argument only deals with opposing sides having a difference of opinion, not what is actually right. It also attempts to draw conclusions about morality solely because people are in disagreement. Since the conclusion does not follow the premises, this argument is not sound.

In addition to this, ethical relativists tend to judge those based on the standard of their time. Doing this, however, results in judging by what was thought to be right rather than what actually is right. To clarify, a person thinking something is morally correct does not by any means justify the actions. It is always a question of what is right. They also tend to use the word "standard" incorrectly. As mentioned before, "standard" is used to describe what people thought to be right. However, "standard" should have a distinction from what is right, and what is thought to be right. They also hold the belief that "standards" are specific to one group and believe there is no common standard. But by comparing cultures, they imply an existence of one common standard.

If the theory of moral relativism were to be true, we could no longer make customs of our own society superior to others. Simply stating differences between cultures would be enough to allow the continuation of actions that would normally be frowned upon by other societies. Moral progress could not be argued. Moral progress is defined as replacement of old ways with new and improved ways. However, if there is to standard to judge them by, how is it progress? More importantly, because every culture has its own set of moral codes, we would not be able to justify what is right by looking at the moral codes of our own society. Also, relativist compare cultures with one another, however, by doing so, they

Furthermore, referring back to the Cultural Differences Argument, which states there are differences in morals codes between cultures, societies have been found to share at least one common ground with each other. There have been some moral rules that all societies follow because those rules are crucial for the existence of society. Therefore, if at least one moral rule is the same, there is a flaw within the theory. And adding to this, although they may not share the same beliefs with each other, the values do not differ from one another. Again, this would prove moral relativism to be false and prove the existence of one moral code.

In conclusion, many problems arise with the theory of moral relativism. Firstly, a part of the argument is not sound. In addition to this believing in moral relativism would call for the stop of actions that are continuously used today, such as making other societies inferior. The theory of Moral Relativism proves to be false.


1)If morality is not relative then you're an ethical absolutist
2)Ethical absolutist believes in one moral code.
3) Thus morality is not relative for there is only one moral code.
4)If you don't believe in one moral code then you are an relativist
5)If you"re an relativist you believe every society's morals are equally the same
6)It is normal for it holds the same values as other society morals
8)Then some morals are relative
Debate Round No. 1


If every society's morals are equally the same, then we are not allowed to belittle any other person's society. We are also not allowed to make our own society superior to others. Making them all equal would not allow us to say what is right and what is wrong. Morals are usually for the sole purpose of what is right and what is wrong. This cancels out the whole idea of morals.

Ethical absolutism argues that there is in fact one universal code. This does not change from society to society. There have also been morals codes found to be the same in all societies. Moral relativism argues that every society is different. However, when examined, it is found that there are some morals/ values that are the same throughout different societies. Since this would make that not all societies are different, it would disprove the theory.

In conclusion, having all moral standards be the same would not make sense. And there is one universal moral code.


If in fact there is one universal code than all societies would not be different. James Rachels article "The challenge of Cultural Relativisim" he explains the difference between the Greeks and The Callatians and how they handle funerals within their culture. They were both disgusted for what each has done. If there is only one moral code than they both agree that is normal for what they do.
Debate Round No. 2


One universal code would results in knowing what is right and what is wrong. What you're referring to is what people think to be right, but not what is actually right. This is a problem when looking at moral relativism. Standards, in the way that relativists use the word, refers mostly to what is thought to be right and not what is right.

As previously mentioned, moral relativists argue that every society has its own set of rules making them all different. However, when you look at it closely, you realize that not every society is different. For example, a set of people don't eat cows because they believe it could be their deceased grandmas while other people eat cows. However, they do not eat their grandmas because they believe it is wrong to do. While the beliefs may be different, the values are the same. This would mean that not everything is different. This again proves that not everything is different.

There also must be a common moral standing. If there was not, society would cease to exist. For example, if killing wasn't morally incorrect, everyone would go around killing people for the sake of it. Mass killings would results in the diminish in society. Therefore, there must be a universal code.


I do agree with beliefs maybe different and the values are the same. We must have an open mind to other society morals. If not we become subjective,and our feelings will cloud us to understand their morals. It is an endless cycle for one society may think another society is wrong and vise a versa.
Debate Round No. 3


While relativism does allow for an open mind, it does not tell us what is right and what is wrong. As I mentioned before, this is a huge problem. If we rely on feelings to decide what is wrong and what is right, does it prove anything? Morals are said to be free from subjectivity. Thinking that something is right does not make it right.

To sum my argument, moral relativism is not true. It has been shown that not everything is different therefore disproving the above mentioned theory. Also moral relativism allows for moral progress. Morals are absolute.


If there is a right or wrong, and another culture thinks other wise, how is there one moral code? There are endless amounts of answers to this question.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by the_croftmeister 5 years ago
I have seen this come up a few times. Moral relativism doesn't state that all morals are equally valuable, it states that morals can only be valued on a subjective scale. You can still judge different moral codes relative to each other, it's just that there isn't 'just one' way to do this.
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Vote Placed by effimero89 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by BrandonButterworth 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Grammar goes to con because pro literally stopped mid-sentence in one of his points on the first round.