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It Is Obvious That Morality Is Relative

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Views on Morality are varied and changed throughout different cultures and societies. Morality in the definition of the word, is the natural sense of right and wrong. This sense is usually gained from the surroundings on a person as a young child or from influences in a person’s life. The statement that Morality is relative can be looked at in many different ways. Morality to be seen in a relative manner is objective as, in the whole, the views on the world are twisted to every individuals independent views on it. This is what this statement explains and implies but there is a main argument that supports and a main one that is against the views one morality being relative. This view of morality is called relative morality whereas the opposing argument is absolute morality where this believes that what the god’s believe to be moral is moral and what isn’t moral, isn’t. The first part of the argument is natural law. Natural law is “not simply about what nature does. Rather it is based on nature as interpreted by human reason”. It does not present a “fixed” outcome or passage to reach the goal and can be moved and flexed by the interpretations of humans.

The modern idea of natural law was created by st. Thomas of Aquinas. He synthesized both Aristotle’s views on natural law and the stoics view on natural law. Thomas argued that good was the right reason in accordance to nature and that rule is created for the common good. This all ties back to morality through the actions of the natural law. For example, a problem with natural law is that it states we can decide what is right and wrong, this can be taken to the extreme with people truly believing that taking another innocent is life is morally and ethically right, whereas others may not agree with this, natural law states that one may decide between right and wrong. This is one of the main arguments against morality being relative as there are always those who take morality to its extreme. Another part of these arguments about morality is ‘the golden rule’. The golden rule is that of do to others what you would want them to do to you. This may seem like a general and absolutist idea of morality but this rule is differed and changed across societies and throughout history. Many of the main religions such as; Christianity, Buddhism and Islam conduct around this rule.

Although the rule is generally the same it is always individualised to each religion but it is relative to its customs. For example, Each have a basic main god that is prayed and worshipped to but the way in which they worship is different in each religion. In Islam, usually people kneel and recite an incantation to praise Allah whereas in Christianity, praise is usually done in silence by oneself as said in the bible. These slight differences make the golden rule the same but different for all these cultures because of its relativity. The third point that i will put forward is the point of in what state would morality exist if there were no religion or believed gods. Would people think that it would be alright to rape, pillage and destroy as there were no moral standards set. I think not as the statement that all morality is relative says that the setting of morality is set by the society in which one lives in and the acts of the surrounding people. This of course can always be flawed (For example, people living in poor East Africa see people steal and kill but should not join in on these acts) but the basic principle of the statement is correct the moral standard of a society is always changing but kept at a constant level.

This means those living in poor countries have a relative morality standard to those living easy in rich countries. Morality being relative also brings forward the problem of relativity being tolerable for other cultures. Relativism does not show toleration toward other cultures but is somehow tolerable of the practices. For example, women in middle eastern countries are not allowed to show their faces whilst in western countries this is fine. This shows that the views and morality for women are different and are relative depending on where the place in the world is. To continue from this point, it also shows how relative to society morality really is as women are of the same standard as men in the west but not the same in the middle east.

This shows the toleration of morality can be stretched as it is in the culture of these countries to conceal the women’s head and although the west does not agree with this, they must tolerate the practices and customs of the morality of these countries. To conclude, Morality being relative is a statement that is much argued. There are many studies and cases for and against it but the golden rule and natural law seem to hold high in these rankings. Relativity again, is objective so the morality of a culture can see the morality of another culture in a completely different light than that of the first culture. This all in all shows that the world has developed and proven itself moral through the views and customs of the different societies all over. It gives people a sense of right and wrong but always keeps the human questioning how or why something has happened in the world. Morals bring emotions and if relative or absolutist, keep the world just.


* Thompson, Mel, “Ethical Arguments”, An introduction to Philosophy and Ethics (Hodder Education, 2003, 2008) * “Approaches to Ethics”, On the Threshold: Religious Education Programme for Secondary Schools in Aotearoa New Zealand (Wellington: National Centre for Religious Studies, 2010)

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