Moral Relativism and the Meaning of Morality
There are scores of moral laws, codes, and standards. All ethics are relative to the age, place, and the conditions in which they are found. It is in no sense absolute. What morality ordains in one place or age may be quite different from what morality entails in another place or age. For instance, what an African person may consider as morals may mean something totally different in another part of the world. It may even be a total disgrace to those other people. However, this fact should not be a ticket for anyone to commit an offence and justify himself that where he comes from, his immoral act is allowed. In as much as we all know that different people have different sets of moral ideas most of these morals are standard and acceptable in different parts of the world. This Stake refers to as ethical relativity. Mark that the word “starndard” is used in this logic to entail the position of moral ideas contemporary in the period in subject. It means what people think right, whether as a matter of fact it is right or not. It is a situation where people of different backgrounds and ethnicities share a universal opinion (Stance, p.1).
On the other hand, the absolutist uses this word “standard” to mean what is right as different from what people basically regard as precise. His point is that even if what people believe right varies in different states and times, yet what is essentially accurate is equivalent all over and tolerable. And it follows that when the ethical relativist disputes the position of the absolutist and denies that any worldwide decent standard exists, he too means by “standard” what actually is right. To be particular, he ultimately defines standard morals as the moral ideas present in any meticulous age or country. That is to mean what is morally right is acknowledged with what is contemplated to be morally right in that particular place. There are divergent definitions of morals from both the absolutist and the relativist. The absolutist refers to standards morals in the sense of sets of obtainable moral ideas are proportional and erratic. But the standard in the sense of what is actually morally right is supreme and rigid (Kellenberger, p.12).
On the other hand, the relativist has only one definition, that standard morals refer to limited and changeable sets of moral ideas and identifies what is moral with what is contemplated honorable by definite humans or groups of people. Stace points out that moral relativism has no principled way to shun allowing every person to decide morality for him or herself. When every person does what he or she thinks is right, then the word morals will lose its connotation. It is undisputable that this will tend to be severely disastrous in its impact upon practical conduct. If men happen to suppose that a single moral standard is as superior as another, they would conclude that their own moral standard has nothing exceptional to advocate it. They might also trip down to some inferior and easier standard. One may be well aware that doing something is wrong, but since he has the right to decide on what is right and moral to them they end up doing quite the opposite. By doing so, the well-regarded moral standard loses its denotation and significance in guiding an individual’s measures. Nevertheless, ideas, even idealistic ideas, are not so incompetent that they can remain perpetually redundant in the superior chambers of the intelligence. Eventually they tread down to the level of practice. They get themselves acted on.
Given that these arguments are legitimate, the ethical relativist cannot actually uphold that there exists a moral standard obligatory upon any person against his will. And he cannot maintain that, even within the social group, there is a common standard as between individuals. If that’s the way it is, then even critics to the effect that one individual is ethically improved than another happen to be inconsequential. All moral assessment in consequence gets eliminated, with nothing to put a stop to each man from being a regulation unto him. The result will be moral disarray and the collapse of all efficient standards.
According to sterling, Every person, male and female can put up, on this view, an unquestionable declaration to be judged by no standard apart from his or her own. This will consequently mean that whoever is stronger will be right, however gruesome his ideas and proceedings are. If we cannot contradict to any one, irrespective of who they are, the freedom to possess its own morality, is it not apparent that, ultimately, we will not be able to even this right to the person? It will be hard to presuppose that moral codes are constrained within the subjective restrictions of the physical divisions of countries. Nor are the concepts of race, nation, or opinionated state liable to facilitate us. In that case considering a country like the U.S, it has its own ethical values. Within that same country, there are different states of the union formed that also have their own code of ethics and they consider it to be right. And most likely, there are groups in each city and rural community has its own peculiar standard. In the villages and towns are various cliques every one having its own set of ideas, further more there exists individuals in every state, group, village or town (p.2).
Now we consider a situation whereby every individual in a particular group or clique is given the mandate to decide morality for him or herself. Would this not result in turmoil? Who would be more right than the other? Who would guide who? The world at some point was the paramount place to live in when the whole of human race was covered by a single moral standard. The human race was one. There were no demarcations to split up humanity into races, nations or tribes. Whatsoever the case, it all boils down to the actuality that there has to exist a universal standard of assessment amid individuals (p.4).