Moral relativism

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Moral relativism

Post14 Jan 2013

Noting the rise of moral relativism, or subjectivism, within the Brahma Kumaris facade, I'll attempt to roughly define the terms ... roughly raising questions about it, rather dictating one use of the terms.

Whereas outsiders might be misled to see Brahma Kumaris as being influenced by traditionally pluralistic Hindu acceptance of other truths and religions; internally, quite the opposite is true ... and the Brahma Kumaris see only their beliefs, or rather the beliefs of their spirit guide and leaders, as being the absolute truth.
Moral relativism is the idea that moral principles have no objective standard. In its extreme, it is a view which believes there are no hard and fast rules on what is right and wrong. It is the opposite of absolutism, which poses that there is only one truth.

A relativist would say, that there are "different opinions ... no one authority ... many 'truths' or "one person's food is another person's poison". When applied to ideas about ethics, goodness, virtue and duty would also lie in the eye of the beholder. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI made a bit of a stink where he said, "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires".

Moral relativism is a particularly "Western Liberal" idea and born of the bourgeoisie (or urban middle classes), but growing under "early globalisation", and later the influence of anthropologists, when explorers discovered other cultures had different standards and morals which acted as a catalyst to reconsider their own.

On the other hand, Conservatives and Objectivist believe that truth and moral standards should be perfect and unchanging.

The dispute between the two poles is not new within the West. Two and a half thousand years ago in Greece, the home of Western philosophy, Plato opposed relativism while seeking "one true opinion, real knowledge, real authority" and debunking other philosophers of his time.

In the late 20th Century, it became fashionable to argue that there is no one truth, just many interpretations.

Related to this is subjectivism, the idea that our own mental activity is the only unquestionable fact of our experience and that reality is not a firm absolute but a fluid, plastic, indeterminate realm which can be altered by the consciousness of the perceiver.

A variety of subtleties and combinations between the two are used and discussed, e.g. Moral subjectivism versus moral relativism.

- abridged from a number of sources

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