Words of Wisdom:

"Gonzalo es Joto. Mendez" - Chocolate_delight

Moral Relativism, a History

  • Date Submitted: 04/10/2015 06:09 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 17.1 
  • Words: 651
  • Essay Grade: no grades
  • Report this Essay
Though moral relativism did not become a prominent topic in philosophy or elsewhere until the twentieth century, it has ancient origins. In the classical Greek world, both the historian Herodotus and the sophist Protagoras appeared to endorse some form of relativism (the latter attracted the attention of Plato in the Theaetetus). It should also be noted that the ancient Chinese Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi (formerly spelled Chuang-Tzu) put forward a nonobjectivist view that is sometimes interpreted as a kind of relativism.

Among the ancient Greek philosophers, moral diversity was widely acknowledged, but the more common nonobjectivist reaction was moral skepticism, the view that there is no moral knowledge (the position of the Pyrrhonian skeptic Sextus Empiricus), rather than moral relativism, the view that moral truth or justification is relative to a culture or society. This pattern continued through most of the history of Western philosophy. There were certainly occasional discussions of moral disagreement—for example in Michel de Montaigne's Essays or in the dialogue David Hume attached to An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. These discussions pertained to moral objectivity, but moral relativism as a thesis explicitly distinguished from moral skepticism ordinarily was not in focus. Prior to the twentieth century, moral philosophers did not generally feel obliged to defend a position on moral relativism.

Nonetheless, the increasing awareness of moral diversity (especially between Western and non-Western cultures) on the part of Europeans in the modern era is an important antecedent to the contemporary concern with moral relativism. During this time, the predominant view among Europeans and their colonial progeny was that their moral values were superior to the moral values of other cultures. Few thought all moral values had equal or relative validity, or anything of that sort. The main impetus for such a position came from cultural anthropology....

Comments

Express your owns thoughts and ideas on this essay by writing a grade and/or critique.

  1. No comments