Challenge of Moral Relativism
Relativism is not so much the enemy of idealism as it is a good
and profitable idea gone bad. Like many well-intentioned philosophies,
it took inconclusive observations and transformed them into an absolute.
Moral Relativism states that there are no
objective moral standards that can be applied to all people everywhere,
and at all times. It was derived from anthropological studies
of various cultures where moral differences were sometimes extreme.
This led to the conclusion that there was no experiential evidence
for natural law among human beings. Everything was uniquely tied
to culture and happenstance. Similarities could be explained by
cultural exchanges or integration. This led to something called
subjective moral relativism which states that morality
does not exist of itself, but is something dependent upon the individual,
and therefore means different things to different people. One moral
judgment cannot necessarily be deemed better than the other.
If this is true, it contradicts the idea of innate
moral tendencies of natural law, and undercuts the foundation of
Chivalry-Now as a unique expression of universal principles.
While moral differences among various cultures
might give us pause in regard to natural law, closer inspection
reveals commonalities that actually support it once they are understood.
The confusion stems from variant expressions of the same taboos
Moral relativism has an appeal among some intellectuals,
especially those who reject the unchanging and sometimes regressive
structures of traditionalism. They see it as less ethnocentric and
more tolerant of diversitywhich are, in themselves, admirable
What they fail to see is that moral relativism
has serious drawbacks as well. Just as traditionalism suffers from
self-made blind-spots, relativism does the same thing. Just about
any "ism," once solidified, builds roadblocks that inhibit
sufficient inquiry and the workings of an open mind.
Moral relativism claims to value diversity, which
traditionalism is reluctant to do, but this claim is surface level
only. Instead of looking to diversity to find common links that
shed light on and celebrate natural law, it considers that too judgmental.
So doing, all moral intents are roughly considered equal. So doing,
they provide new license for immorality as well. While traditionalism
condemns them for that, they are similar in that adherents are being
restrained from discovering greater truth.
Are all beliefs and values equally valid? If
this is so, moral relativists should tolerate the very intolerance
they condemn in others. What about genocide? Slavery? Injustice?
When civil rights are violated, should they not shrug it off as
inconsequential? While in some respects everything may indeed be
perceived in relative terms, that does not place everything on equal
Critically disingenuous, subjective moral relativism,
taken to its logical conclusion, would undercut the value of social
reform. If all values are basically the same, and we should ignore
differences, we end up ignoring people as well, and throw progress
out the window. Is this what they really want? Probably not. This
is just another example of believing something that has not been
well thought out. The truth is, relativism degrades our capacity
for discernment, leaving us adrift in a malaise of contradiction,
with no safe harbor. In the end, this creates a major risk to society.
History shows that whenever moral principles are robbed of their
influence, societies fall into chaos and violence.
Natural law, in contrast, proves far more reliable
because it goes straight to the subjective truth that we personally
experience and can rationalize for ourselves. It explains the source
of divergent moralities by uncovering not just their differences,
but their shared similarities. It further recognizes the intrinsic
freedom that creates these differences as reflective of human nature.
Natural law leads back to the definition of our species. Relativism,
by itself, leads nowhere at all, just bland, shapeless toleration.
Its war against traditionalism offers nothing of substance to replace
it. If traditionalism is likened to a whited sepulcher, relativism
seeks to replace it with a house of cards. Neither is habitable
for authentic living.
Out of respect for human nature, Chivalry-Now
embraces nature's law as part of who we are. We feel its pulse,
and try to learn from it. We learn what we can from past traditions,
while refusing to surrender to their limitations.
What can we safely deduce are these natural laws?
The most basic one of all, from which the others
are generated, is that "we should do good and not do bad."
From that simple foothold we include the following as reasonable
care for children
- Care and
respect for elders
- Sibling attachments
- Pair bonding
- Tell the
- Do not steal
- Keeping one's
word or at least promises
- Taboo against
- Taboo against
- Desire for
- Idea of restitution
- Group identity
- The tendency
for groups to form social contracts
- Murder is
- A tendency
toward altruism, which crops up even under extreme circumstances
- Respect for
- Helping those
No doubt there
Relativism would point out how various cultures
differ in some of these respects. Examined carefully, this does
not negate natural law theory, but adds further proof. The differences
we find point back to singular ideas, proving their commonality.
conclusion, there are valuable lessons to be learn from relativism.
Moral and cultural differences should be viewed with an open mind,
something that Chivalry-Now encourages also. Where it falls
apart is its lack of further judgment that inhibits the open mind
from functioning as it should.