Absolutism and Relativism

Mind Map by Sumahlor, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by Sumahlor over 6 years ago


A-Level Ethics Mind Map on Absolutism and Relativism, created by Sumahlor on 05/05/2015.

Resource summary

Absolutism and Relativism
  1. Relativism
    1. There are no objective moral values
      1. The rightness or wrongness of an action may depend on many things depending on what kind of relativism you follow
        1. Culture
          1. Time period
            1. Indivudual
              1. Situation
              2. Originates from ancient Greek beliefs
                1. The Sophists
                  1. Protagoras: 'Man is the measure of all things.'
                    1. Herodotus: 'each society regards its own belief system as better than all others.'
                  2. Nothing is intrinsically good
                  3. Cultural relativism
                    1. Based on the diversity thesis: because of the diversity between cultures, there can be no one true morality.
                      1. A similar theory is dependency thesis
                        1. Strong dependency thesis: right and wrong depends on the nature of a society
                          1. Weak dependency thesis: there are objective moral values, but different cultures interpret them differently
                        2. Herodotus and the Greeks and Callatians: each society was disgusted by the other's funeral practises
                          1. Nancy Scheper-Hughes - we have no basis to criticise any culture other than our own. This means we should be tolerant of other cultures and not interfere with them.
                          2. For and against relativism
                            1. For
                              1. It allows progress as we are open to other people's ideas
                                1. It promotes tolerance and non-interference
                                  1. It's easy to explain the source of morality; it can be hard to explain where moral absolutes come from.
                                    1. There is no need for a deity - attractive to atheists
                                      1. The situation and the individual are taken into account
                                        1. Morality is easy - you just follow your society
                                        2. Against
                                          1. Forces you to conform to society's values
                                            1. Majority views are always 'right' - but what if the majority is Nazi Germany, or the Apartheid regime?
                                              1. We cannot interfere even if another culture is doing something clearly evil (eg WW2)
                                                1. There are some generally agreed on moral values
                                                  1. The 'golden rule'
                                                    1. Socrates: 'All humans have an innate understanding of what is right and wrong.'
                                                    2. There is no reason to be moral except to be accepted by your society
                                                      1. We belong to different overlapping cultures
                                                        1. Creates a 'we vs they' mentality
                                                          1. It's dangerously close to being subjectivism
                                                        2. Absolutism
                                                          1. An absolute is always true for all times, places, people and cultures
                                                            1. Objective and deontological; consequences are unimportant as absolutes are intrinsically good or bad
                                                              1. For a theist, absolutes come from a deity. For an atheist they are 'a priori' in nature (ie they are moral law because they are advantageous to our survival)
                                                                1. The ten commandments are an example
                                                                  1. Absolutists may have 'graded absolutes' where some are more important, so a conflict of absolutes can be avoided
                                                                    1. eg Corrie ten Boom - broke the absolute of not lying in order to protect Jews from Nazis, obeying the higher absolute of always protecting the innocent
                                                              2. For and against absolutism
                                                                1. For
                                                                  1. An easy, simple code to follow
                                                                    1. Allows intervention in other cultures if they're doing something wrong
                                                                      1. Every society has absolutes: the law. So we all live by absolutes
                                                                        1. Easy to justify if you are religious
                                                                          1. There are some general moral values
                                                                          2. Against
                                                                            1. Hard to justify if you are non-religious
                                                                              1. Creates conflict between groups and can cause interference
                                                                                1. What if the absolutes you follow are wrong and you don't know it?
                                                                                  1. Makes cultural development hard
                                                                                    1. Doesn't consider the situation
                                                                                2. Subjectivism
                                                                                  1. A form of relativism
                                                                                    1. Follows the idea that right or wrong depends on what the individual wants to be moral
                                                                                      1. Ernest Hemingway: 'What is moral you feel good after and what is immoral you feel bad after.'
                                                                                        1. Very problematic: serial killer Ted Bundy used it to justify his killings
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