Moral relativism
Moral relativism may be any of several descriptive, meta-ethical
In philosophy, meta-ethics is the branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, statements, attitudes, and judgments. Meta-ethics is one of the three branches of ethics generally recognized by philosophers, the others being normative ethics and applied ethics. Ethical...

, or normative
Normative has specialized contextual meanings in several academic disciplines. Generically, it means relating to an ideal standard or model. In practice, it has strong connotations of relating to a typical standard or model ....

 positions. Each of them is concerned with the differences in moral judgments across different people and cultures:
  • Descriptive relativism describes the way things are, without suggesting a way they ought
    Is-ought problem
    The is–ought problem in meta-ethics as articulated by Scottish philosopher and historian, David Hume , is that many writers make claims about what ought to be on the basis of statements about what is...

     to be. It seeks only to point out that people frequently disagree over what is the most 'moral' course of action.
  • Meta-ethical relativism is the meta-ethical
    In philosophy, meta-ethics is the branch of ethics that seeks to understand the nature of ethical properties, statements, attitudes, and judgments. Meta-ethics is one of the three branches of ethics generally recognized by philosophers, the others being normative ethics and applied ethics. Ethical...

     position that the truth or falsity of moral judgments is not objective. Justifications for moral judgments are not universal, but are instead relative to the traditions, convictions, or practices of an individual or a group of people. The meta-ethical relativist might say "It's moral to me, because I believe it is".
  • Normative relativism is the prescriptive or normative position that, because there is no universal moral standard by which to judge others, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others - even when it runs counter to our personal or cultural moral standards. Most philosophers find that this position is incoherent, or at least that it is unclear how meta-ethical relativism can lead to 'ought' statements.


Not all descriptive relativists adopt meta-ethical relativism. Moreover, not all meta-ethical relativists adopt normative relativism. Richard Rorty
Richard Rorty
Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University...

 (1931–2007), for example, argued that relativist philosophers believe "that the grounds for choosing between such opinions is less algorithmic than had been thought," but not that any belief is equally as valid as any other.


Descriptive relativism is merely the positive
Positive science
In the humanities and social sciences, the term positive is used in at least two ways.The most common usage refers to analysis or theories which only attempt to describe how things 'are', as opposed to how they 'should' be. Positive means also 'value free'. In this sense, the opposite of positive...

 or descriptive position that there exist, in fact, fundamental disagreements about the right course of action even when the same facts obtain and the same consequences seem likely to arise. It is the observation that different cultures have different moral standards.
Descriptive relativists do not necessarily affirm or deny the existence of a single correct normative appraisal, given the same set of circumstances; that is to say, they are not necessarily normative relativists. Likewise, they do not necessarily make any commitments to the semantics, ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

, or epistemology of moral judgements; that is, not all descriptive relativists are meta-ethical relativists.
Descriptive relativism is a widespread position in academic fields such as anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, which simply admit that it is incorrect to assume that the same moral or ethical frameworks are always in play in all historical and cultural circumstances.


Meta-ethical relativists believe not only that people disagree about moral issues, but that terms such as "good," "bad," "right" and "wrong" do not stand subject to universal
Universality (philosophy)
In philosophy, universalism is a doctrine or school claiming universal facts can be discovered and is therefore understood as being in opposition to relativism. In certain religions, universality is the quality ascribed to an entity whose existence is consistent throughout the universe...

Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

 conditions at all. Rather, they describe societal conventions and personal preference. Meta-ethical relativists are, firstly, descriptive relativists: they believe that, given the same set of facts, some societies or individuals will have a fundamental disagreement about what one ought to do (based on societal or individual norm
Norm (sociology)
Social norms are the accepted behaviors within a society or group. This sociological and social psychological term has been defined as "the rules that a group uses for appropriate and inappropriate values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. These rules may be explicit or implicit...

s). What's more, they argue that one cannot adjudicate these disagreements using some independent standard of evaluation — the standard will always be societal or personal.

This view is contrasted by moral universalism
Moral universalism
Moral universalism is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is, for "all similarly situated individuals", regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexuality, or any other distinguishing feature...

, which argues that, even though people disagree, and some may even be unpersuadable (e.g. someone who is closed-minded), there is still a meaningful sense in which an action may be more 'moral' than another. That is, they believe there are objective standards of evaluation that seem worth calling 'moral facts' - regardless of whether they are universally accepted.


Normative relativists believe not only the meta-ethical thesis, but that it has normative implications on what we ought to do. They argue that meta-ethical relativism implies that we ought to tolerate the behavior of others even when it runs counter to our personal or cultural moral standards.

Most philosophers do not agree, partially because of the challenges of arriving at an "ought" from relativistic premises. Meta-ethical relativism seems to eliminate the normative relativist's ability to make prescriptive claims. In other words, Normative relativism may find it difficult to make a statement like "we think it is moral to tolerate behaviour" without always adding "other people think intolerance of certain behaviours is moral". Philosophers like Russell Blackford
Russell Blackford
Russell Blackford is an Australian writer, philosopher, and critic, based for many years in Melbourne, Victoria. He was born in Sydney, and grew up in Lake Macquarie district, near Newcastle, NSW. He moved to Melbourne in 1979, but returned to Newcastle to live and work in 2009.-Writing career:As a...

 even argue that intolerance is, to some degree, important. As he puts it,"we need not adopt a quietism about moral traditions that cause hardship and suffering. Nor need we passively accept the moral norms of our own respective societies, to the extent that they are ineffective or counterproductive or simply unnecessary." That is, it is perfectly reasonable (and practical) for a person or group to defend their subjective values against others, even if there is no universal prescription or morality. We can also criticize other cultures for failing to pursue even their own goals effectively.

The moral relativists may also still try to make sense of non-universal statements like "in this country, it's wrong to do X" or even "to me, it is right to do Y".

Moral universalists argue further that their system often does justify tolerance, and that disagreement with moral systems does not always demand interference, and certainly not aggressive interference. For example, the utilitarian might call another society's practice 'ignorant' or 'less moral', but there would still be much debate about courses of action (e.g. whether to focus on providing better education, or technology, etc.)


Moral relativism encompasses views and arguments that people in various culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s have held over several thousand years. For example, the ancient Jaina
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

' is one of the most important and fundamental doctrines of Jainism. It refers to the principles of pluralism and multiplicity of viewpoints, the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth.Jains...

 principle of Mahavira
Mahāvīra is the name most commonly used to refer to the Indian sage Vardhamāna who established what are today considered to be the central tenets of Jainism. According to Jain tradition, he was the 24th and the last Tirthankara. In Tamil, he is referred to as Arukaṉ or Arukadevan...

 (c. 599 – 527 BC) states that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth; and the Greek
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 philosopher Protagoras
Protagoras was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato. In his dialogue Protagoras, Plato credits him with having invented the role of the professional sophist or teacher of virtue...

 (c. 481 – 420 BC) famously asserted that "man is the measure of all things". The Greek historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 (c. 484 – 420 BC) observed that each society regards its own belief system and way of doing things as better than all others. Various other ancient philosophers also questioned the idea of an objective standard of morality.

In the early modern era Baruch Spinoza
Baruch Spinoza
Baruch de Spinoza and later Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch Jewish philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death...

 (1632–1677) notably held that nothing is inherently good or evil. The 18th-century Enlightenment philosopher David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

 (1711–1776) serves in several important respects as the father both of modern emotivism
Emotivism is a meta-ethical view that claims that ethical sentences do not express propositions but emotional attitudes. Influenced by the growth of analytic philosophy and logical positivism in the 20th century, the theory was stated vividly by A. J. Ayer in his 1936 book Language, Truth and...

 and of moral relativism, though Hume himself did not espouse relativism. He distinguished between matters of fact and matters of value, and suggested that moral judgments consist of the latter, for they do not deal with verifiable facts obtained in the world, but only with our sentiments and passions. But Hume regarded some of our sentiments as universal. He famously denied that morality has any objective standard, and suggested that the universe remains indifferent to our preferences and our troubles.

Friedrich Nietzsche believes that we have to assess the value of our values since values are relative to your goals and yourself. He emphasizes the need to analyze our moral values and how much impact they have on us. The problem with morality, according to Nietzsche, is that those who were considered “good” were the powerful nobles who had more education, and considered themselves better than anyone below their rank. Thus, what is considered good is relative. A “good man” is not questioned on whether or not there is a “bad”, such as temptations, lingering inside him and he is considered to be more important than a man who is considered “bad” who is considered useless to making the human race better because of the morals we have subjected ourselves to. But since what is considered good and bad is relative, the importance and value we place on them should also be relative. He proposes that morality itself could be a danger. Nietzsche believed that morals should be constructed actively, making them relative to who we are and what we, as individuals, consider to be true, equal, good and bad, etc. instead of reacting to moral laws made by a certain group of individuals in power.

It is controversial whether the late modern philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

 (1844–1900) is an anti-realist
Moral realism
Moral realism is the meta-ethical view which claims that:# Ethical sentences express propositions.# Some such propositions are true.# Those propositions are made true by objective features of the world, independent of subjective opinion....

 or a relativistic realist about morality.
See e.g.: Nietzsche's Views On Ethics; Prominent Moral Skeptics
Moral skepticism
"Moral skepticism" denotes a class of metaethical theories all members of which entail that no one has any moral knowledge. Many moral skeptics also make the stronger, modal, claim that moral knowledge is impossible...

One scholar, supporting an anti-realist interpretation, concludes that "Nietzsche's central argument for anti-realism about value is explanatory: moral facts don't figure in the 'best explanation' of experience, and so are not real constituents of the objective world. Moral values, in short, can be 'explained away.' "
It is certain that Nietzsche criticizes Plato's prioritization of transcendence
Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that developed in the 1830s and 1840s in the New England region of the United States as a protest against the general state of culture and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard University and the doctrine of the Unitarian...

 as the Forms
Theory of Forms
Plato's theory of Forms or theory of Ideas asserts that non-material abstract forms , and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. When used in this sense, the word form is often capitalized...

. The Platonist view holds that what is 'true', or most real, is something which is other-worldly while the (real) world of experience is like a mere 'shadow' of the Forms, most famously expressed in Plato's allegory of the cave
Allegory of the cave
The Allegory of the Cave—also known as the Analogy of the Cave, Plato's Cave, or the Parable of the Cave—is an allegory used by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work The Republic to illustrate "our nature in its education and want of education"...

. Nietzsche believes that this transcendence also had a parallel growth in Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, which prioritized life-denying moral qualities such as humility and obedience through the church
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. (See Beyond Good and Evil
Beyond Good and Evil
Beyond Good and Evil is a book by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in 1886.It takes up and expands on the ideas of his previous work, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, but approached from a more critical, polemical direction....

, On the Genealogy of Morals, The Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist
The Antichrist (book)
The Antichrist is a book by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, originally published in 1895. Although it was written in 1888, its controversial content made Franz Overbeck and Heinrich Köselitz delay its publication, along with Ecce Homo...

, etc.)

Anthropologists such as Ruth Benedict
Ruth Benedict
Ruth Benedict was an American anthropologist, cultural relativist, and folklorist....

 (1887–1948) have cautioned observers against ethnocentricism — using the standards of their own culture to evaluate their subjects of study. Benedict said that transcendent morals do not exist — only socially constructed customs do (see moral nihilism
Moral nihilism
Moral nihilism is the meta-ethical view that nothing is moral or immoral. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is neither inherently right nor inherently wrong...

); and that in comparing customs, the anthropologist "insofar as he remains an anthropologist . . . is bound to avoid any weighting of one in favor of the other". To some extent, the increasing body of knowledge of great differences in belief among societies caused both social scientists
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

 and philosophers to question whether any objective, absolute standards pertaining to values could exist. This led some to posit that differing systems have equal validity, with no standard for adjudicating among conflicting beliefs. The Finnish philosopher-anthropologist Edward Westermarck (1862–1939) ranks as one of the first to formulate a detailed theory of moral relativism. He portrayed all moral ideas as subjective judgments that reflect one's upbringing. He rejected G.E. Moore's (1873–1958) ethical intuitionism
Ethical intuitionism
Ethical intuitionism is usually understood as a meta-ethical theory that embraces the following theses:# Moral realism, the view that there are objective facts of morality,...

 — in vogue during the early part of the 20th century, and which identified moral propositions as true or false, and known to us through a special faculty of intuition — because of the obvious differences in beliefs among societies, which he said provided evidence of the lack of any innate, intuitive power.

Moral questions and science

Author Sam Harris
Sam Harris (author)
Sam Harris is an American author, and neuroscientist, as well as the co-founder and current CEO of Project Reason. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Stanford University, before receiving a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA...

, a prominent figure in the "New Atheist
New Atheism
New Atheism is the name given to a movement among some early-21st-century atheist writers who have advocated the view that "religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises." New atheists argue that recent...

" movement, has argued that there are correct and incorrect answers to moral questions that may one day fall within reach of a maturing neuroscience
Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics,...

. He advocates an empirically based moral science
Science of morality
Science of morality can refer to a number of ethically naturalistic views. Historically, the term was introduced by Jeremy Bentham . In meta-ethics, ethical naturalism bases morality on rational and empirical consideration of the natural world...

 founded upon ethical realism or, more specifically, ethical naturalism
Ethical naturalism
Ethical naturalism is the meta-ethical view which claims that:# Ethical sentences express propositions.# Some such propositions are true....

, and presupposes a loosely utilitarian
Utilitarianism is an ethical theory holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes the overall "happiness", by whatever means necessary. It is thus a form of consequentialism, meaning that the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome, and that one can...

Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness of that conduct...


Harris wrote extensively on how science can influence how we view moral truth. Harris claims that human well-being, which includes peaks of happiness and valleys of distress, indicate that morality and its consequences can be studied within the realm of science. These “states of the human brain…depend on events in the world. Consequently, there must be scientific truths to be known about it.” (Harris 2). Everyone can distinguish between what a happy person and miserable person look like. Furthermore, we can distinguish between a “good” life and a “bad life”. Harris presents a disturbing account of the differences between the two in The Moral Landscape, in which he describes the bad life as being “a young widow who has lived her entire life in the midst of civil war” and witnessed her “seven-year-old daughter [being] raped and dismembered” at the hands of her “fourteen-year old son, who was goaded to this evil at the point of a machete by a press gang of drug-addled soldiers” (15). The good life, however, is much different and more familiar to most Americans, in which “you are married to the most loving, intelligent and charismatic person you have ever met. Both of you have careers that are intellectually stimulating and financially rewarding.” (15).

Morality and evolution

Some evolutionary biologists believe that morality is a natural phenomenon
Natural phenomenon
A natural phenomenon is a non-artificial event in the physical sense, and therefore not produced by humans, although it may affect humans . Common examples of natural phenomena include volcanic eruptions, weather, decay, gravity and erosion...

 that evolves by natural selection
Natural selection
Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

. In this case, morality is defined as the set of relative social practices that promote the survival and successful reproduction of the species, or even multiple cooperating species.

R. M. Hare

Some philosophers, for example R. M. Hare
R. M. Hare
Richard Mervyn Hare was an English moral philosopher who held the post of White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford from 1966 until 1983. He subsequently taught for a number of years at the University of Florida...

 (1919–2002), argue that moral propositions remain subject to human logical rules, notwithstanding the absence of any factual content, including those subject to cultural or religious standards or norms. Thus, for example, they contend that one cannot hold contradictory ethical judgments. This allows for moral discourse
Discourse generally refers to "written or spoken communication". The following are three more specific definitions:...

 with shared standards, notwithstanding the descriptive properties or truth condition
Truth condition
In semantics, truth conditions are what obtain precisely when a sentence is true. For example, "It is snowing in Nebraska" is true precisely when it is snowing in Nebraska....

s of moral terms. They do not affirm or deny that moral facts exist, only that human logic applies to our moral assertions; consequently, they postulate an objective and preferred standard of moral justification, albeit in a very limited sense. Nevertheless, according to Hare, human logic shows the error of relativism in one very important sense (see Hare's Sorting out Ethics). Hare and other philosophers also point out that, aside from logical constraints, all systems treat certain moral terms alike in an evaluative sense. This parallels our treatment of other terms such as less or more, which meet with universal understanding and do not depend upon independent standards (for example, one can convert measurements). It applies to good and bad when used in their non-moral sense, too; for example, when we say, "this is a good wrench" or "this is a bad wheel". This evaluative property of certain terms also allows people of different beliefs to have meaningful discussions on moral questions, even though they may disagree about certain "facts".

Walter Terence Stace

"Ethical Relativity" is the topic of the first two chapters of The Concept of Morals in which Walter Terence Stace
Walter Terence Stace
Walter Terence Stace was a British civil servant, educator, philosopher and epistemologist, who wrote on Hegel, Mysticism, and Moral relativism...

 argues against moral absolutism
Moral absolutism
Moral absolutism is an ethical view that certain actions are absolutely right or wrong, regardless of other contexts such as their consequences or the intentions behind them. Thus stealing, for instance, might be considered to be always immoral, even if done to promote some other good , and even if...

, but for moral universalism
Moral universalism
Moral universalism is the meta-ethical position that some system of ethics, or a universal ethic, applies universally, that is, for "all similarly situated individuals", regardless of culture, race, sex, religion, nationality, sexuality, or any other distinguishing feature...


Philosophical poverty

Many critics, including Ibn Warraq
Ibn Warraq
Ibn Warraq is the pen name of a polemical author of Pakistani origin who is critical of Islam, and who founded the Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society . He is a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry focusing on Qur'anic criticism...

 and Eddie Tabash
Eddie Tabash
Edward Tabash is an American lawyer and political and social activist. An atheist and a proponent of the Establishment Clause, Tabash has debated several Christian apologists, including Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig, Matt Slick and Greg Bahnsen.Tabash is a member of the California State...

, have suggested that meta-ethical relativists essentially take themselves out of any discussion of normative morality, since they seem to be rejecting an assumption of such discussions: the premise that there are right and wrong answers that can be discovered through reason. Practically speaking, such critics will argue that meta-ethical relativism may amount to Moral nihilism
Moral nihilism
Moral nihilism is the meta-ethical view that nothing is moral or immoral. For example, a moral nihilist would say that killing someone, for whatever reason, is neither inherently right nor inherently wrong...

, or else incoherence.

These critics argue specifically that the moral relativists reduce the extent of their input in normative moral discussions to either rejecting the very having of the discussion, or else deeming both disagreeing parties to be correct. For instance, the moral relativist can only appeal to personal preference to object to the practice of murder or torture by individuals for hedonistic
Hedonism is a school of thought which argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good. In very simple terms, a hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure .-Etymology:The name derives from the Greek word for "delight" ....

 pleasure. This accusation that relativists reject widely held terms of discourse is similar to arguments used against other "discussion-stoppers" like some forms of solipsism
Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's own mind is sure to exist. The term comes from Latin solus and ipse . Solipsism as an epistemological position holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure. The external world and other minds cannot be known, and might not...

 or the rejection of induction
-General use:* Induction , induction of childbirth* Rite of passage** Introduction of an individual into a body such as the armed forces** Formal introduction of a priest into possession of the position to which she or he has been presented and instituted...


Philosopher Simon Blackburn
Simon Blackburn
Simon Blackburn is a British academic philosopher known for his work in quasi-realism and his efforts to popularise philosophy. He recently retired as professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, but remains a distinguished research professor of philosophy at the University of North...

 made a similar criticism, and explains that moral relativism fails as a moral system simply because it cannot arbitrate disagreements.

The moral relativist might respond that their conception of morality (as being capable only of describing preferences) is more accurate, regardless of the practical use of this conception. The critics, however, maintain that their conception of morality is, for that exact reason, inadequate. Ultimately critics can do little more than to invite moral-relativists to re-define "morality" in practical or morally realistic terms.

Roman Catholicism

Catholic and some secular intellectuals attribute the perceived post-war
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 decadence of Europe to the displacement of absolute values by moral relativism. Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

, Marcello Pera
Marcello Pera
Marcello Pera is an Italian philosopher and politician. He was the President of the Italian Senate from 2001 to 2006.-Career:...

 and others have argued that after about 1960, Europeans massively abandoned many traditional norms rooted in Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and replaced them with continuously evolving relative moral rules. In this view, sexual activity
Human sexual behavior
Human sexual activities or human sexual practices or human sexual behavior refers to the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts from time to time, and for a wide variety of reasons...

 has become separated from procreation, which led to a decline in the importance of families
In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...

 and to depopulation
Sub-replacement fertility
Sub-replacement fertility is a total fertility rate that leads to each new generation being less populous than the previous one in a given area. In developed countries sub-replacement fertility is any rate below approximately 2.1 children born per woman, but the threshold can be as high as 3.4...

. As a result, currently the population vacuum in Europe is filled by immigrants, often from Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic countries, who attempt to reestablish absolute values which stand at odds with moral relativism. The most authoritative response to moral relativism from the Roman Catholic perspective can be found in Veritatis Splendor
Veritatis Splendor
Veritatis Splendor is an encyclical by Pope John Paul II. It expresses the position of the Catholic Church regarding fundamentals of the Church's role in moral teaching. The encyclical is one of the most comprehensive and philosophical teachings of moral theology in the Catholic tradition...

, an encyclical
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Catholic Church. At that time, the word could be used for a letter sent out by any bishop...

 by Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

. Many of the main criticisms of moral relativism by the Catholic Church relate largely to modern controversies, such as elective abortion.


Bhikkhu Bodhi
Bhikkhu Bodhi
Bhikkhu Bodhi , born Jeffrey Block, is an American Theravada Buddhist monk, ordained in Sri Lanka and currently teaching in the New York/New Jersey area...

, an American Buddhist monk, has written: "By assigning value and spiritual ideals to private subjectivity, the materialistic world view
World view
A comprehensive world view is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point-of-view, including natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and...

... threatens to undermine any secure objective foundation for morality. The result is the widespread moral degeneration that we witness today. To counter this tendency, mere moral exhortation is insufficient. If morality is to function as an efficient guide to conduct, it cannot be propounded as a self-justifying scheme but must be embedded in a more comprehensive spiritual system which grounds morality in a transpersonal order. Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality."

External links

Living with Relativism
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.