Moral Relativism Doesn't Allow for Improvement

15Katey

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The question is, does relativism support moral improvement? If the moral standards of one culture are just as good and right as another culture's, then how do we know what's actually moral in reality? Let's say that one nation supports the beating of wives who are unfaithful. Is another nation supposed to accept that behavior as moral and not question it at all? What if the first nation has supported the beating of unfaithful women for thousands of years? According to the moral relativist, this behavior and support was moral when it first began and is still moral today, no matter what else has transpired in the meantime. To the normative moral relativist, that nation's moral standing is just as correct as anyone else's.

Is there a moral standard that we all wish to achieve? If so, how does a nation that beats women ever achieve that standard if one action is just as moral as another? If there's never any improvement. To relativists, there seems to be a constant and persistent level of morality among all nations, cultures, and groups. So if one day the nation claimed that they will stop beating unfaithful women, how does anyone know if that's a good move or not? If all actions are seen in the same moral light, it would be fairly difficult to follow the chain of moral improvement. And why would they ever want to change if what they are currently doing is seen as good and just?

Decades ago, slavery was abolished in the United States. Why did this happen? Well, to some, the alternative of slavery was more moral than the slavery itself. If relative morality existed in its purest form, how would one tell the difference, morality-wise? To the relativist, both are equally moral, good, and just. You see, change is different than improvement. Change is simply an alternative from one to another. Improvement implies that one is better than another. When it comes to relativism, there are no objective standards by which to apply any activity, so all that's available is change. To the objectivist, there are moral standards, so it's fairly simply to say that one action is more moral than another. To the objectivist, certain actions can be objectively better or worse than others.

Let me ask you a question. What did Martin Luther King Jr. fight for? Did he fight for change? Or did he fight for improvement? If he only fought for change, that means he didn't see anything morally deficient about the current situation in which he was fighting. There was nothing immoral about racism and inequality. He merely wanted to experience something else. If he fought for improvement though, that means he recognized a future that was objectively better than his present. And if the second option was the case, it means that he experienced a standard of objective morality.
 
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