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Relativism is a Logically Flawed Philosophy

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/21/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 458 times Debate No: 97197
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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I wish to argue for the position that Relativism is a flawed philosophical concept, and will be defending and promoting Absolutism throughout my arguments. Arguments should be made in point form with supporting evidence written below, for the first round positions will be stated in point form only, further arguments will follow in rounds 2-3. Ad Hominem arguments will be tolerated. The opponent will construct their thesis in the first round, then resort to rebuttals and further arguments in the following rounds (cease using point form if you wish, quote opponent and deconstruct logic). I shall set up a template for the first round with my own thesis and position. Best of luck to my opponent.

Thesis and Position-

1. Absolute truth must exist for truth to exist, if truth is relative, truth does not exist

2. Absolutism is absolutely true, to dodge logical fallacy, relativism must be relatively true

3. The relativist does not prove that relativism is true but merely assumes that it is true, to believe relativism is true one must accept the absolute laws of logic and rationality

4. The capacity to be correct or incorrect must exist

5. Stating absolutes do not exist or manifest in reality is making an absolute assertion


1. In order to argue absolutism is true, it requires circular reasoning(for to make a claim that absolutism is a logically consistent philosophy, you have to have absolutism to prove that). While I am not one who says circular reasoning leads to something always being false(as that would be an absolute) this is something an absolutist would believe and so it makes the absolutist's thinking logically flawed according to their own philosophy.
2. One can come to the conclusion relativism is the more logically consistent philosophy by realizing everything in this world is dependent upon how our brain perceives it.
3. Logic is also a relative idea, for who determines what is logical? Relativism may or may not be logically flawed and it is hasty to conclude it is or is not unless logic is always correct, which it is not.
4. The capacity to be correct or incorrect does exist in relativism, you just don't ever know for certain if you are. Whether or not one is correct doesn't depend on whether one knows they are. You're correct or incorrect regardless of what philosophy one follows. Relativism doesn't deal with whether one is correct or incorrect, but whether you can know if you are.
5. Absolutes may or may not exist, but we can't know if they do or don't.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank-you to my opponent for accepting this challenge. I shall now begin with my rebuttals and further arguments.


1. In order to argue absolutism, one must acknowledge truth in all forms. Stating that arguing absolutism falls prey to the fallacy of circular reasoning, only proves absolutism is self-evident. For example, you claim "To make a claim that absolutism is a logically consistent philosophy, you have to have absolutism to prove that", is this not more self-evident than it is circular reasoning? Furthermore, your argument is an absolute statement. Is absolutism absolutely fallible to circular reasoning, or relatively fallible?

2. The way we perceive the world is based on our individual experience, this I will agree upon, however, you must acknowledge that while we may believe what we want, or experience what we perceive to be true, we might not actually be correct. Once again, multiple truths cannot exist, nor can half-truths, only universal truths. For example, it was popular belief that the world was flat, or that the earth was the centre of the universe, but these notions have proved to be falsehoods. Ideas or concepts perceived to be true may, in turn, not be true. Our individual experience lies.

3. Logic is determined by universal truth. For example, it is logical for me to conclude that 2 + 2= 4, and I can base this logic on facts and reason, determined by simple intellectual truths. Personally, I believe that absolutes are determined by a perfect and unfailing deity, but that is a debate for another day.

4. If we can distinguish between right and wrong, then we can determine correctness. For example, we both can agree that murder is wrong, that the sky is blue, that (as stated above) 2 + 2= 4, and we can further agree on universal concepts. We know we are right because truth is self-evident and inherited by nature.

5. Can you determine if you do or do not exist? If you can prove one truth, you can prove all truth. I am conscious and I can communicate ideas and concepts by using language, essentially, my experience is absolute, our debate is absolute and existence (no matter how relative or individual it is viewed to be) is absolute


If ideas or values have no objective existence, how do we determine individual morals?


1. I'm merely stating that a believer in absolutism is in an inconsistent position. I do not personally believe it is an absolute fact that absolutism is subject to circular reasoning, but to someone who does believe in absolutism, it would make sense.

2. It is only our individual experiences that we have to rely on though. Which is why relativism makes more sense, since you can't know anything is absolute unless you experience it yourself, and as you pointed out, your own experience can be heavily flawed, so you never know if you have an absolute truth and there's no way to prove you do have it. Even the idea of the earth being a globe can be wrong, since all we have is our own perception to determine this with.

3. 2+2=4 may not be true in every case though. In order to argue for absolutism, it must be true in every case, but it is our own perception that there is 2 of one thing, and 2 of another thing which makes 4. We can never be sure there are 4 things there because that is what our perception and senses tell us, which can be flawed. So, in the case of math in a practical application, it can only be relatively true. In a theoretical example, it appears to always be true, but theory doesn't matter nearly as much as practice.

4. Ah, but not everyone agrees murder is wrong in every case. For example, in China and India it is perfectly acceptable to kill new-born females, and in Somalia and Sudan, it is acceptable to kill a woman who was raped [1] While, again, I wouldn't say it is absolutely the case these things are acceptable in those areas, the evidence suggests it is. It is impossible to believe in absolutism while different cultures come to different conclusions about murder and other moral problems.

5. There's always the possibility that I am merely a programmed intelligence and this is all a simulation. There's no way to prove otherwise, so it is only relatively true that I exist as a human being with my own conscience. To determine one exists, once more, one has to rely on one's imperfect senses.

Debate Round No. 2


I greatly respect my opponent for their arguments thus far, and thank them for the enjoyable banter and debate that we have engaged in.

1. How might an absolutist be inconsistent? One of the universal laws of Philosophy states that all things have an opposite, ergo, truth and falsehood. I could be absolutely correct, or I could absolutely incorrect, but all the same, the experience is absolute. The larger question to ask is; does truth exist? If we deny truth, we prove absolutes all the same as we would in accepting absolutes. If one where to state "Truth does not exist" then they lie, because this statement is absolute.

2. What makes an experience relative? I am acknowledging that personal reality is unpredictable, but can both defy and prove absolutes. In this case, my personal reality can tell me that there is milk in the refrigerator, but when I open said refrigerator, and find that there is no milk, my personal reality has lied. All the same, in this case I was absolutely incorrect. For the relativist to be consistent, they must believe all things are relative, including relativism itself. But in my case as an absolutist, even if I am incorrect I still prove absolutes.

3. Truth is a natural concept. The fact of the matter is that simple questions can be answered with absolute assertion, such as basic mathematical problems. As we debate it is clear that we stand at an impasse, but I must ask, won't one of use be correct, and the other be incorrect? In the grand scheme, there must be fact and their must be fiction. This applies to the largest philosophical concepts. For example, what happens when we die? We know that something must happen, even if that something turns out to be nothing, there is a truth and their is myth. Relativists claim we cannot know truth, but this statement alone acknowledges tat there is truth, and as I continue to argue, truth is absolute.

4. True, many cultures, religions and worldviews all harbour a different idea of truth. But again, doesn't something have to be right? Your argument suggests that we cannot be right, or know what is right, but all in the same, will you not acknowledge that there is truth?

5. This sounds like Solipsism to me, which is admittedly a very hard Philosophy to argue against. However, consider the necessity of a universal communication tool (language), if I am the only being with conscience thoughts and actions, why is it necessary for me to use an meaningless language to communicate with a meaningless being?

Thank-you for this wonderful debate, I look forward to your rebuttals.


1. Well, because as I said, it requires circular reasoning to believe in absolutism. That's what is inconsistent. To prove absolutism is true, you have to first accept absolutism. For in order to say "absolutism is absolutely true" that is, in itself, using absolutism. And in order to prove absolutism is true through an example, you have to accept the example as being 100% true all of the time.

2. However, what are you relying on that there is milk in the refrigerator? When you open the door, you're using your sight to determine there is not milk. Sight can be deceiving, as there are optical illusions and such. Just because you don't see milk, doesn't mean there isn't milk in the refrigerator.

3. To determine truth, it all relies on our perception of something though, and perception can entirely be false. I suppose you're saying that truth exists whether we perceive it or not correct? I suppose that is true, but we can never know it is truth with certainty.

4. Yes, there can be truth, but we I argue we can't ever know if we have come to the truth or not, and I believe that is what relativism is about.

5. I suppose it's not necessary to communicate with meaningless beings. I don't see anything here to rebut exactly, so I'll leave it here.

Sorry if this last argument seemed to be done with half-heartedness, I am in a bit of a rush. I didn't even finish a couple of my other debates as I've been busy.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by JimShady 10 months ago
"If we deny truth, we prove absolutes all the same as we would in accepting absolutes. If one where to state "Truth does not exist" then they lie, because this statement is absolute."

Con never addressed this statement by Pro in the last round, at least not that I saw,
Posted by Hayd 1 year ago
Pro's first premise is a bare assertion, its completely unsupported. Why does truth have to exist with absolute truth?
Posted by canis 1 year ago
It is relative hot.
Posted by Capitalistslave 1 year ago
By the way, you may be interested in the below debate(and to vote in it once it's over) since it parallels with this one you and I are in:
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