It is Obvious that Morality is Relative

In putting my name on the cover sheet I declare that the contents therein are my work, reflecting my learning. No part of this assignment has been copied from another student’s work. I further declare that I have acknowledged all sources where I have used or referred to someone else’s work and/ or ideas The exact nature of morality is a conundrum which has separated ethicists for eras. Albeit at times during the world there has been a clear distinction between what is perceived as good and what is perceived as bad.

For example; In Ancient Greece it was considered customary for grown men (not necessarily fathers) to take young boys (not necessarily sons) under their wing, and mentor them; yet they would also engage in sexual activities with them, at that time is was not surprising at all and was not perceived as bad. However at this present day and age it perceived as bad and is a punishable offense in most places[1]. The discrepancy between Absolutist ethics (which means morality is not relative, that is to say, absolutist morality.

This belief would apply an ethical rule or law to any situation, regardless of its potential outcomes, or relativistic factors), and a relative ethics (which means morality is relative, dependant on the situation). Plainly whichever principle is held by a person to be factual will be contingent upon their point of view and conviction on the attitude to morality, nevertheless it is still arguable as to whether or not morality is relative or absolutist. Several ethical theories are teleological (relativist): what is right or wrong depends on the end or outcome of an action, Other theories are deontological (absolutist): doing what is right means doing your duty or following the rules”[2] . To be able to contrast and criticise between Absolutist ethical theories and Relative ethical theories, we must first comprehend what are some constituents of each theory and the definitions.

Kant and the Natural Law are major components of Absolutist ethical theories, Kant states that we should act according to maxims that we would want to see as universal laws. These laws are absolutist and that we will be able to work them out through ‘a priori knowledge’ which is knowledge of proposition and doesn’t require experience to be known true, this mean we can work them out logically prior to experience.

Natural Law is debatably deontological, as it leads with a set of rules that people must follow and these rules know of no exception hence they are absolutist. For example, using contraception to avert conception is absolutely wrong, irrespective of the consequences such as the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. The main constituents of Relative ethical theories are, Situation Ethics, Situation Ethics says that what is good and bad is relative to the situation, and “it abolishes prefabricated decisions and prescriptive rules”.

It elucidates that ethical verdicts should follow flexible guidelines rather than absolute rules. [3]Furthermore there are Theories that can be either absolutist or relativist, i. e. Utilitarianism; “this is a moral principle that holds that the morally right course of action in any situation is the one that produces the greatest balance of benefits over harms for everyone affected”[4]. To put this in layman term, greatest good for the greatest number of people, with this definition it would be teleological.

Conversely critics such as John Stuart Mill adapted version states, That we need to make laws that lead to the greater good and follow those laws, i. e. if I had an obligation to be honest all the time, it would usually lead to great happiness, however in some cases it will lead to more unhappiness, this is absolutist because there are no exceptions to the rules. [5] Another dual theory is Virtue Theory Aristotle derived a list of virtues that we need to acquire, through education and routinely (as in everyday life), in order to have a happy life.

This view can be seen as absolutist and teleological, because it is about the ends or purposes of our actions. Albeit Aristotle claims that particular ends or goals are absolute, it’s always good to have good virtues such as kindness, honesty etc. To recapitulate, it is not vastly evident that morality is obviously relative, and not obvious that is better than absolutism; however both theories can only be truly asses on a case by case basis, not including extraneous circumstances and scenarios which are on both sides.

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