Arguments for and against Relativism.

    Rachels considers an argument involving the Greeks who think that eating the dead is morally impermissible and the Callations who think that eating the dead is permissible.  This argument has the following general form:
 

A1.If different people believe two different conflicting statements to be true, then neither statement is true-period or false-period;the statements are at most true-for v false-for.There is no fact of the matter.
A2.  Different people believe conflicting statements about the moral permissibility of eating the dead.
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A3.  Statements about the moral permissibility of eating the dead are neither true-period not false period.  They are at most true-for or false-for.

 
 

    As the argument stands, it is an argument from (mere) difference of view to there is no absolute, no objective, truth about this issue. It is an argument that, as it stands, involves a premise that involves a direct link between difference of opinion and the status (objective v non-objective) of moral statements.
 

    Rachels's objection to this argument is a matter of offering other instances of this general form of argument to show that these other instances are obviously false.  If he is successful in presenting instances of the general principle A1 that are false, then  A1 , as it stands, is false.   This means that  some particular reason must be given for thinking that moral statements, unlike other statements, are shown to be neither true-period nor false-period by mere difference of view.  After all, the absolutist maintains that moral statements are just like non-moral statements in that mere difference of view over their truth/falsity doesn't show that there is no true-period.
 
 

    Instances of the general principle, A1, that are obviously false, according to the absolutist and the relativist as well.
 

God-1.If two different people, Tom and Mary, believe two different conflicting statements to be true-Tom- "There is a God"; Mary' "There is no God", then neither statement is true-period or false-period;the statements are at most true-for v false-for.There is no fact of the matter about whether or not there is a God.

 
Flat-Earth-1. If two different people, Tom and Mary, believe two different conflicting statements to be true-Tom (in Spain in 1400) - "The Earth is flat"; Mary (in the U. S. today)"There is not spherical", then neither statement is true-period or false-period;the statements are at most true-for v false-for.There is no fact of the matter about whether or not the Earth is flat or spherical.
 
  If Rachels's objection to the argument from "Difference of Opinion" is effective, it demonstrates, at most, that the argument is not sound.  It does not show that relativism is an inaccurate description of the nature of morality; it does not show that the conclusion of the argument is false.
 

    The above objection to Relativism is a matter of contending that an argument forrelativism is not successful.  Other arguments, inspired by section 4, "The Consequences of Taking Cultural Relativism Seriously", in the Rachels essay, are more direct in that they have the falsity of relativism as a conclusion.
 
 

1.If moral (cultural)relativism is an accurate characterization of morality, then we cannot make moral assessments of other cultures.
2.We can make moral assessments of other cultures.
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3. Moral (cultural) relativism is not an accurate characterization of morality.
 

1..If moral (cultural)relativism is an accurate characterization of morality, then we can find out what is right and what is wrong just by finding out what the standards of our society/culture are.
2.We cannot find out what is right and what is wrong by simply finding out what the standards of our society are -
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3.  Moral (cultural) relativism is not an accurate characterization of morality.


 

1. If moral (cultural)relativism is an accurate characterization of morality, then we have not made moral progess in this country and we haven't regressed morally either.

2.But we have made moral progress/we have regressed morally.

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3. Moral (cultural) relativism is not an accurate characterization of morality.


    In order to make the assessments that the opponent of relativism says we can make we need a standard against which to measure the competitors.What is the standard?   This is (or "may be")  Benedict's main point.
 
 

Argument for Moral Relativism from "No Truth-maker/No Authority".
 

1.If a statement is true-period or false period, then these is something that 'makes it true' or 'makes it false' or there is some authority that has the right to proclaim it true-period or false-period.
2.There is nothing that makes moral statements true-period or false period and nothing that has the authority to make moral statements true-period or false-period (apply to all).
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3.There are no true-period or false-period moral statements.

Rachels's Arumentation (maybe) in section 6 in the text, "How All Cultures Hace Some Values in Common".


 

1.If there is a moral statment (if there are moral statements) that is (are) shared by all societies/all cultures/all nations/ all peoples, then these moral principles are true-period.
2.There are moral statements that are shared by all...
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3.There are true-period moral statments.
    Premise 1. might be phrased as "IF there are statements that are believed by all, then these statements are true-period.They state the facts about the world."
    It is important to keep in mind the difference between what we mean when we use the expression "true-period" and what "universal" means when it means "universally shared".