The definition of a good society is one that facilitates being good, while a free society facilitates being free (Bianchi & Casper, n.d). Winthrop (n.d.) states that living spiritually equals to living morally because the spirit is free. Additionally, the spirit distinguishes between intellect and will, which make up ideals of truth and goodness. Thus, the greatest threat to a moral life is losing moral principles (Hamilton, 2003). Losing one’s principles makes morality a complicated subject to any American; since principles are moral absolutes that do not change despite changing feelings and practices (Edwards n.d.). On the other hand, moral relativism rejects moral absolutes, making it the number one public enemy of Americans. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2004) warns that moral relativism has put out moral principles in our education systems and if not undone, will put out civilization. Thus, only a strong case for moral absolutism can unmask the negativity associated with moral relativism.
Relativism, absolutism, and moral actions
Moral relativism and moral absolutism have been subjects of controversy in defining the moral actions of the American (Debate: Moral Relativism v. Moral Absolutism n.d). Moral relativism claims that all morality is changeable, subjective, and individualistic. Moreover, relativist philosophers argue that morality is relative to the changing times (Socrates Meets a Moral Relativist n.d.). In addition, we subjectively harbor thoughts and feelings that make something good or bad. Last, philosophy holds that different strokes work for different people. On the other hand, moral absolutism argues that moral principles do not change, are objective, and are universal (Irvine n.d.; Benedict, 1934).
These two philosophies are important because ideas carry weighty moral consequences, such as the holocaust. Although philosophy is just a thought, it plants them and later reaps actions (Hamilton, 2003; Himmerlfarb, 1996). The actions later reap habits, which turn into characters that can later reap a destiny. With America being the primary source of relativism, churches are coming out strongly to oppose, resist, and withdraw from this vice, given its glaring consequences on the society. Thus, moral relativism remains the most important issue in our time, since a society of relativists has never before existed (Sartre, n.d.).
Relativism, absolutism, and personal motives
Basing the argument against moral relativism on the subjective personal motives of the American, critics argue that moral absolutism creates negative feelings of guilt and unhappiness (Valasquez et al. 1992). On the other hand, moral relativism harbors positive feelings of happiness and self-esteem. The argument that moral absolutism is bad is faulty because absolute moral laws maximize happiness, love, and compassion (Novak, 2006; Hamilton, 2003). Although removing moral absolutes removes guilt associated with bad actions, guilt creates unhappiness in the end. The relativist assumption begs the question of whether tyrants, rapists, or terrorists are better people if they do not feel guilty (Clasusen, 2007). In short, the argument that moral absolutism makes us unhappy, by creating feelings of guilt is refutable.
Arguing against absolute moral principles bears resemblance to accepting that no foundation exists for ethics. Yet, ethical decisions hinge on definite and consistent principles; and, they should not depend on ill opinions that benefit a single person but on a definite moral compass. Sticking to a clear moral perspective creates a defense for a society that is belittling or challenging moral standards. Overall, the society can disapprove of its established historical laws and do away with relativism, or stick to relativism and face extinction.
Benedict, R. (1934). A Defense of Ethical Relativism. Week 5 Lecture: Moral Relativism and Moral Absolutism. Retrieved from Bellevue University. Kirkpatrick Signature Series Book 2.
Bianchi, S. & Casper, L. (n.d.). American Families. Web.
Clasusen, C. (2007). America’s Design for Tolerance. Web.
Debate: Moral Relativism v. Moral Absolutism (n.d.). Web.
Edwards, J. (n.d.). Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Week 4 Lecture: The Changing role of Religion. Retrieved from Bellevue University. Kirkpatrick Signature Series Book 2.
Hamilton, M. (2003).Ten Commandments and American Law. Web.
Himmerlfarb, G. (1996). Second Thoughts On Civil Society. The Weekly Standard, Web, Sep. 9, 1996.
Irvine, W. (n.d.). Confronting Relativism. Web.
Novak, M. (2006). Faith and the American Founding. Week 4 Lecture: The Changing role of Religion. Bellevue University. Kirkpatrick Signature Series Book 2. Web.
Sartre, J. (n.d.). Existentialism is a Humanism. Web.
Socrates Meets a Moral Relativist (n.d.). Web.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2004). Moral Relativism. Web.
Valasquez, M., Andre, C., Shanks, T. & Meyer, M. (1992). Ethical Relativism. Web.
Winthrop, J. (n.d.). A Model of Christian Charity. Week 4 Lecture: The Changing role of Religion. Retrieved from Bellevue University. Kirkpatrick Signature Series Book 2.