Absolutism and Relativism - Comparative Essay

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Absolutism and relativism are two extreme ethical approaches to reality. While they are both valid and supported by facts, they are very contrasting in their views. Values are what a person cares about and thinks is worthwhile. For example, values can include life, love, religious faith, freedom, relationships,health, justice, education, family and many other things. Usually these values are what provides the passion in a person's life, and gives them hope and a reason for being. A person might go to any lengths to protect what they feel is right and to preserve these values. Values can be divided up into two subcategories absolute and relative. Absolute values deal with conventional ethics. In absolutism, everything is certain. Relativism, on the other hand, is more subjective. Relativism and absolutism are only two of the many ethical viewpoints studied by ethicists today. Pope Benedict XVI brought up many issues revolving around these two viewpoints during his time as Pope. He never strictly used the term "relativism" but he did "fault modern people for missing the transcendent meaning of love and instead caring for one another just because we feel like it". The ideas behind relativism may be misleading or confusing to some, but are essential to any worldview, including the pope's. Pope Benedict worries that a person's individual autonomy has been lifted and valued above moral absolutes. Most people understand that lying is wrong and considered unethical, but we also take a stand that lying in order to prevent harm or evil can be justified. Just because lying is accepted in that situation does not make it ok to lie, in the same way that self defense does not make it ok to do harm unto others in any other situation than when a person feels their life is being threatened. These are relativist views because there is no absolute. There are stipulations for different circumstances.

According to the New World Encyclopedia, absolutism began with Immanuel Kant’s...
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