Ethical relativism refers to the proposition that the morality is relative to the culture of a person. This simply means that what is considered to be right in one society can be considered wrong in another society. Thus members of a certain society can only be judged based on law that governs the society in which she belong to. Failure to do this would simply means that the person is judged unfairly since his or her behavior are not guided by the law of any other society or community. This means there is no universal moral standards which can be used to judge others. People can only be judged based on rules set by their society.
Ethical Relativism Based on Thrasymachus
According to Thrasymachus not everything defined as just or fair is. It always depend on who defined it and the main interest the person has on this definition. This is why in some community killing of elderly parents to prevent them fro suffering at older age is regarded as just by the law. Though in reality this could have been with self-fish intention or relieving the taxpayer from maintaining a high number of dependent population. Those in this kind of society may obey the law for the fear of consequences but not because they agree with it.
Thrasyachus bases his argument on political ground where the political leaders defines the law that others should follow. In most cases, these laws are only meant to protect their interest. Thus what they define to be just must be followed despite being perceived as oppressive by followers. Followers thus obey in fear of severe consequences employed when one fail to observe the law.
Strength and Weakness of Ethical Relativism
Relativism advocates for setting laws to govern a certain community. The main challenge is some people may take it as its responsibility to set these laws with intention of using the law to oppress others as they gain more power. Thus what is just or unjust is only defined based on their standards and not on the moral principle of the community where everybody is comfortable with these laws. The main strength is that permitting every group to define its laws based on their beliefs. Norms, religious values and others assist in preserving groups culture and avoiding culture assimilation which result to extinction of some cultures from minority groups
Contemporary postmodernism claims that there can never be absolute truth. What may be regarded as truth in one part of the world is regarded to be untrue in another part of the world. This makes people to see other people’s world to be incorrect or with errors since this truth is different from their truth.
Contemporary Postmodernism based on Rorty View
Rorty argues that individual perspective about the truth is based on the community that one lives in. Thus one cannot have an individualized perspective that exist independently. He claimed that there is no “God’s eye standpoint” which demonstrate reality in itself. Every person thus interprets reality based on his or her own subjective condition (Geuras, n.d). Rorty defies the Christianity view of perceiving moral laws. To him there is no moral value that can be define to be more superior that others and that fit to all irrespective of their subjective condition. Thus every community must have its own laws that address their needs as a community.
Rorty stresses on social influence in a person and his or her beliefs. The truth or truth substitute is an inter-subjective agreement among community members. This makes members of a community to develop accepted common reality and to speak in common language. His main discovery is the beliefs formation that extend the community solidarity or lower solidarity objectivity (Rothfork, 1995). According to Rorty, individual reality cannot exist in isolation. One has to belong in a community where they agree on values and norms to adapt to. This makes it easy for the community to speak in the same language and behave in a certain manner where all members are comfortable and happy.
Comparison Between Ethical Relativism of Ancient Sophism and Contemporary Postmodernism
Both relativism and postmodernism agree that there is no absolute truth or universal morality law. This means each community can define what is truth based on their shared life perspective while other communities do the same. Since every person consider his external world to have errors, and others norms to be wrong, then people can only be judged based on the laws they understand and have approved in their own community. The two theory advocate for diversity in ethical perception.
Contrast Between Ethical Relativism of Ancient Sophism and Contemporary Postmodernism
In relativism rules can be made by a few who are strong and want to grow stronger. However in postmodern individuals in the community and make an agreement or rules to follow and how to behave and the possible punishments while rules are violated. When a few define what is just or unjust they may also define punishments that weaken the majority and give them a chance to grow even stronger.