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Relativist theories give no convincing reason why people should be good

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This essay will justify that relativist theories give no convincing reason why people should be good. The main problem with relativism is that what is good and what is bad can always change depending on the person so you can never reach a final answer. There are also arguments where absolutes are necessary. Some people believe that relativism does give a convincing argument why people should be good. Relativism is teleological; meaning that you are able to take into account the circumstances of each situation and come up with a realistic conclusion e.g. absolutism would say that abortion is always wrong as you are taking a life though there are sometimes circumstances where abortion is necessary for example in a case where the mother’s life would is in danger abortion would be more acceptable. Absolutist theories do not allow us to change our minds about a situation which as a human being is a normal thing to do and so relativist theories allow us to choose what we believe in which may convince us to follow relative theories and ultimately be ‘good’. Relativism gives us a greater understanding of other cultures as it explains the discrepancies in moral codes. Herodotus, a Greek historian recounted when the King of Persia offered both the Greeks and the Callatians money if they adapted to each other’s funeral practices (the Greeks burnt the bodies of their fathers, while the Callatians ate the bodies of their fathers).

However both disagreed and would not swap for any amount. What was right for one tribe was wrong for the other. What is right or wrong depends upon the nature of the society; different cultures create different values. We all live with unique cultures and so have our own idea of ‘good’. Though, these arguments are weak as ethical beliefs can change when they are challenged, practices which are wrong do eventually stop and all people conform to them. Also if you believe in a God there are certain laws which are laid down which must be followed, if they do not then they might go against some duty or obligation. Abortion is ultimately murder and murder is always wrong no matter what culture or religion you are part of. Relativism is not the only way can understand or accept different culture; as humans we are all capable of accepting people and their ideas. Also Relativism is almost subjectivism and this can become problematic position as we will never reach a truth. However relativist theories do not give a convincing reason why people should be good as both absolute and relativist theories aim to get people to agree to a moral code in order to decide and understand the difference betwen right and wrong. However relativist theories aver that what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ can change depending on the time, place, culture or belief; morals are manipulated by society.

For example abortion would be considered wrong by absolutists and that relativism is the only reason that it has been made legal because of the changes in society. Also relativism does not allow societies to progress e.g. the recognition that slavery was unacceptable took a long time to develop. This was because slavery may have been permitted in one country but not in another. There was no one universal moral law declaring if slavery was morally right or wrong. Relativism theories are not always the right way to turn as there are some cases in which absolute theories are necessary and exist across all societies e.g. It is wrong to murder an innocent person, or it is right for parents to responsible for their own children. Just because cultures differ this does not mean that there is not an objective ‘good’ which all people can agree with especially in situations such as these which cannot ever be argued as being good.

I think that relativism does not give a convincing reason why we should be good because it does not give an actual reasoning to behave morally except to be socially acceptable. So as long as it conforms with society what we do is seen as ‘good’ however this is not the always the case and even though society things its fine does not mean it is e.g. people used to think slavery was acceptable because of the society they lived in however now we know that this was not the right thing to do. Relativism says that ‘there are no absolutes’ however this statement is an absolute in itself. You can‘t judge others’ morality you have to be able to tolerate others and your own beliefs are not always going to absolute and have complete truth as they are just an opinion. We should be able to find a final truth.

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