Moral Absolutism

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PH – 309
Ethical Theory
Paper 1
Morality Is Absolute
Morality is absolute, universal, and objective. I hope to support this theory of Moral Absolutism by (1) discussing the invalid arguments suggested by Ethical Subjective Relativists, (2) discussing the invalid arguments suggested by Ethical Conventional Relativists, and (3) relating inherent human rights to the necessity of absolute morality. Allow me to take this moment to clarify what is meant by Moral Absolutism. The theory of Absolutism is in large part regarded and understood through its Christian religious context. That is, moral obligations and duties are thought to derive from and be expressed to us through divine commands. For the purpose of this paper I have respectfully chosen to approach Morality from a nontheistic perspective. To define, Moral Absolutism is a theory that claims there to exist distinct inherent objective moral principles which all persons should follow when evaluating what is right from what is wrong. Its theorized moral transcript is unwavering in the sense that it sets forth clear and precise instructions, principles, or guidelines for the expected behavior of individuals. In laymen’s terms, it lays out the dos and don’ts for life in general. These indisputable principles are objective in the sense that the requirements – a person or persons obligations, duties, rights, and prohibitions – are, and always have always will be, expected of all without exception. They are inherent and as such universally mandated regardless of a person’s or group’s subjective or conventional beliefs, actual cultural practices, or historical circumstances. Due to the, no nonsense and invasive approach, it’s expected this doctrine of universal moral absolutes would continue to be disputed and rejected by anthropologists and philosophers alike. They suggest wild claims of a poorly hidden ethnocentric agenda all meanwhile attempting to implement an ideal universal civilization. However, not all professionals in the field hold this to be the case. Since the International Human Rights movement, many have come to respect and appreciate the approach absolute morality takes in its defending of “natural rights” or moral standards. The rights and standards aimed at liberating women and children and eliminating the global community of oppressive and harmful cultural practices – slavery, child labor, trafficking, sexual/social inequality, and female genital mutilation. Morality differs in every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. * Ruth Benedict (Patterns of Culture, 1934)

Ethical Relativism, or moral relativism, quite simply refutes the theory of the universality of moral principles held by Absolutists. These ideals, according to relativists are merely contextual, depending on the individual or societal customs, laws, and actions. Emphasizing that the principles held by them (the individual or group) are both, right and wrong, good and bad, moral and immoral. This concept is more clearly expressed when divided into two theories of ethical relativism, Subjective and Conventional. The position of a Subjectivist is the one held by the individual, primarily his own personal preferences, being the basis of his morality. To be considered moral is to live by your own ideologies, chosen standards, and preferred values. In his essay, “Who’s to Judge”, philosopher Louis Pojman quotes Ernest Hemingway who wrote: “So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after and judged by these moral standards, which I do not defend, the bullfighting is very moral to me because I feel very fine while it is going on and have a feeling of life and death and morality and immorality, and after it is over I feel very sad but very fine.” Hemingway’s perspective, like that of the subjectivist, appears to be implying that feelings of guilt will cause people to feel bad and feeling bad is...
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