The rallying cry that moral relativism is dead- first aired in an article in The Atlantic- resulting in an explosion of like-minded articles across the web.
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Viewed from the angle of politics to religion and everything else sandwiched between it’s the latest trending topic to hit the Net and it all started with an article titled; The Death of Moral Relativism.
Moral relativism is the view that morality isn’t objective or measurable -it’s culturally defined- or it’s a what’s right for you may not be right for me type mentality.
But according to some talking heads- this relativism is now a thing of the past- it’s so twentieth century- the millennium changed the way we used to view things as a new morality emerges.
The author attributes these changes to law, virtue and a shame culture while crediting film, art, music and literature as both trend setters and measurers of public opinion- these attributes need no detailed explanation with government sponsored armies of human rights lawyers- self-righteous feel-good groupies and pitch-forked mobs harassing dissenters.
Granted art and entertainment have an effect on public opinion but the author left out the biggest influencers of all- mainstream media culture and public special interest representatives- aka politicians.
He then quotes from an article in the American Spectator by Helen Rittelmeyer; breaking taboos for shock value is relativism- breaking taboos as a means rather than an end is not.
Let’s rephrase the latter part of her quote –BUT breaking taboos as a MEANS TO an END IS still relativism- there it’s fixed.
The article goes on; the subjective morality of yesterday has given way to an ethical code that if violated, results in unmerciful moral crusades on social media.
And here’s a line I cannot quite wrap my head around; a culture of shame cannot be a culture of total relativism-one must have some moral criteria for which to decide if something is worth shaming.
Not if that moral criteria is subjective whichever way you look at it- divorced from wisdom, history, and all traditional mores- and dictated from the top down by moneyed vested interests.
It’s still relativism no matter how it’s fleshed-out and dressed up with semantics.
The new values are touted as tolerance and inclusion but it has created a paradoxical movement in which all is tolerated except the intolerant and all are included except the exclusive.
One can no longer speak of good and bad- the new moral code is all about respect and recognition.
The younger generations came of age during the shift from moral relativism and place a higher value on tolerance and avoiding discrimination so are more offended by the violation of social virtue.
My conclusion is that moral relativism hasn’t died- it has just mutated into something by another name.
The supporters of moral relativism have just transferred their allegiance en masse to this new post-modern version of relativism.
At the end of the day we should just call it all relative.