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Difference Between Moral Absolutism And Relativism

676 words - 3 pages

Explain the difference between moral absolutism and relativism (25)

There are two different ways in distinguishing whether something is right or wrong within ethics. Absolutism is a deontological theory, which determines whether an action is intrinsically right or wrong. Whereas relativism is a teleological theory, which determines whether an action is right or wrong based on the outcomes of the action, on its consequences, this is linked with situation ethics and consequentialism. They are two different ways in approaching ethics.
Absolutism is a moral command that is objectively and universally right or wrong for all people, in all times, places and cultures. It can be said to be ...view middle of the document...

Aquinas used the synderesis rule, which stated to ‘follow good and avoid evil’, implies there are absolutes as most absolute laws seek what’s good and avoid what’s evil. However, on the other hand, relativism allows people to think of the consequences and the outcome of a situation. For example, if my Grandma gave me a jumper for my birthday that I didn’t like, I am going to pretend that I love it so I don’t hurt her feelings. In this situation I have lied because the consequences would be better, however, an absolute approach would emphasise the command ‘do not lie’ is universal and intrinsically wrong.
However, Protagoras stated that ‘man is the measure of all things’ demonstrating that relativism is subjective and personal to different situations and that one has the power to decide what is right and wrong. Therefore for a relativist approach man is the deciding factor in good or evil, however, in contrast, for an absolutist, law or God or Plato’s forms would be the deciding factor in good or evil.
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