Latest post of the previous page:
I don't normally call myself an ethical or moral relativist, because the term is so loaded and tends to be used pejoratively. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy puts it, "Moral relativism has the unusual distinction—both within philosophy and outside it—of being attributed to others, almost always as a criticism, far more often than it is explicitly professed by anyone." I am not yet sure how well I fit with the various definitions of moral relativism given by the SEP. I shall have to read the article thoroughly, along with the one on moral skepticism, and perhaps some articles on a few other alternative positions, to work that out.animist wrote:what you [thundril] say is not what I call ethical relativism, and I am not sure that what Emma talks about is ethical relativism either - yet I think both of you have called yourselves ethical relativists, so I am a bit confused
But at first glance, while not fitting the SEP's definition of metaethical moral relativism perfectly, I can make it fit me by tweaking it a little. I believe that the truth or falsity of moral judgements is not absolute or universal, but is relative to various things, including the traditions, convictions, practices, circumstances, knowledge and abilities of an individual or group. I do think it is reasonable to be tolerant, up to a point, of the different moral judgements of other people. But it is also important, on the basis of my own moral judgements, to help those who suffer as a consequence of those different moral judgements. It can be a bit tricky sometimes to reconcile these two approaches!
Although I value diversity, and the ability of an individual to reach his or her own moral conclusions, at the same time, for pragmatic reasons, I also think it is desirable for human beings to achieve higher levels of agreement on moral judgements [---][/---] not superficial moral uniformity, but a greater degree of agreement between genuinely held individual moral beliefs and conclusions. I wonder whether it might, one day, be feasible to find some basic moral tools that we can all, or nearly all, agree on. Without relying on some kind of moral arbiter, real or imaginary, and without getting into the complexities of high-level moral philosophy, might it be possible, on the basis of our shared humanity, those near-universal characteristics that we do seem to have, to find ways of making moral judgements that don't depend to such a great extent on things like traditions and customs?
It might appear from this that I'm a descriptive moral relativist but a normative moral absolutist, but I'm not. I still believe that the truth or falsity of moral judgements is not absolute or universal, but I think that the things that they're relative to can be more widely shared and closer to universal than they are currently. And I suppose my confidence in humankind is such that I think that development would be a good thing. I guess that's what makes me a humanist.