Absolutism And Relativism Essay Research Paper Absolutism

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Absolutism And Relativism Essay, Research Paper Absolutism and relativism are two extreme ethical approaches to reality. While they are both valid and supported by facts, they are very contrasting in their views. Values are what a person cares about and thinks is worthwhile. For example, values can include life, love, religious faith, freedom, relationships, health, justice, education, family and many other things. Usually these values are what provides the passion in a person’s life, and gives them hope and a reason for being. A person might go to any lengths to protect what they feel is right and to preserve these values. Values can be divided up into two subcategories: absolute and relative. Absolute values deal with conventional ethics. In absolutism, everything is

certain. Relativism, on the other hand, is more subjective. It includes concepts such as utilitarianism and idealism. Relativism stresses the idea that nothing is certain. These two ideals are extremes when approaching reality and values. An ethical absolutist believes that there is a single or universal moral standard that is equally applicable to all people at all times, and each society must adhere to them. There is one moral law, one universal code, and one eternal standard that govern all people. Right is right and wrong is wrong; everything is black and white. There is a distinct difference between what is "actually" right and what is "thought" to be right. Actions are inherently good or bad, regardless of the consequences. They also feel that if two

people are in disagreement about what is right, then obviously one of them must be mistaken, since ethical standards are either right or wrong. Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperative support the absolutist’s opinions. Kant, a German philosopher, was one of the greatest thinkers of all time, and his writings are widely used to study ethics and morality. According to him, to possess moral worth is more important than to possess intelligence, humor, strength or any other talent of the mind or body. He feels that moral worth has absolute value. When faced with a moral decision, one test of a moral act is to ask oneself, "Is this the kind of act that everyone should perform?" This question can determine whether a given principle is moral and objective or merely

subjective. Immanuel Kant stated, "There is?but one categorical imperative, namely, this: Act only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it should become a universal law" (M-WDQ). Universal principles impose categorical imperatives that demand that a person act in a certain fashion. A categorical imperative is unconditional and moral. For example, "Keep your promises" or "Don’t lie". The opposite of this is the hypothetical imperative, which is conditional on something. People who follow Kant’s theories, Kantians, defend his principles. In his article in The New Republic, Michael Sandel wrote, "Kant argued that empirical principles, such as utility, were unfit to serve as basis for the moral law. A wholly instrumental

defense of freedom and rights not only leaves rights vulnerable, but fails to respect the inherent dignity of persons" (Sandel). In the view of modern-day Kantians, certain rights are so fundamental that even the general welfare cannot override them. The extreme opposite of absolutism is relativism. Relativists feel that circumstances arise that can alter cases, and make exceptions to any rule. It is okay to have everyday standards to live by, but exceptions are always welcome since they are right and good. The judgment of good of bad is based upon the result of consequence of the act rather than the act itself. Contrary to ethical absolutism, ethical relativism claims that if two individuals disagree on a moral view, both can be right, since moral views are not right or