We are yet not finished with our critique of conventional ethical relativism. There is an even more basic problem with the notion that morality depends on cultural acceptance for its validity. One person may belong to several societies subcultures with different value emphases and arrangements of principles. A person may belong to the nation as a single society with certain values of patriotism, honor, courage, and laws including some that are controversial but have majority acceptance, such as the current law on abortion. But he or she may also belong to a church that opposes some of the laws of the state.
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This means that philosophers strive to make their arguments deductively valid. So what a philosopher tries to do is construct a valid argument form, and then make sure that the premises ARE true.
In such a case, the conclusion cannot be false. If so, no better argument for that conclusion can be given. Beliefs about what is right and wrong differ across cultures the Diversity thesis. What is right and wrong is dependent upon, or relative to, culture the Dependency thesis. Thus, there is no objective right and wrong. Pojman recognizes that this is a valid argument. As such, IF the premises are true, the conclusion which denies moral objectivism must be true.
If moral objectivism must be false, then moral relativism must be true. Pojman tries to attack this argument. The attack has two stages.
If Pojman can do this, then even if the argument is valid, the truth of the conclusion will not necessarily follow because it would only follow IF the premises were true.
It simply shows that the conclusion could be false. If it must be true, then the claim that there is no objective right and wrong cannot be true. If he succeeds in both stages, the argument for relativism is defeated. Pojman must show that one or more of the premises in the argument for relativism is or are false. Now Pojman realizes that the first premise called P1 in the argument for relativism is not objectionable.
What this means is that there is no reason why Pojman would need to find it false. As a matter of fact, Pojman thinks it is true. If you go to various cultures, you will find various different definitions of right and wrong. Is this harmful to moral objectivism? If Pojman acknowledges that P1 is true, does this harm moral objectivism?
The reason is this: one cannot validly move from a statement about beliefs to a statement about fact. If you could, then this argument would be conclusive: P1. Beliefs about what is right and wrong differ across cultures — C1. The conclusion here is NOT necessarily true, even if the premise P1 is true. That means thatthe argument is not valid. We know it is not valid because it is possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion to be false.
To see how, just construct another argument with a similar form this is called an argument from analogy :. Beliefs about the shape of the Earth differ across cultures — C1. Thus, there is no objective right and wrong about the shape of the Earth. Clearly, this argument is not valid. It is possible for people to disagree about the shape of the Earth, but this does not entail that there is no objective answer about the shape of the Earth.
So Pojman reasons that if this is so, and the argument for relativism using just P1 as a premise has the same form, then the claim that people differ about moral beliefs does not entail that there is no objective answer about what is right and wrong. So Pojman allows for P1 to be true, since it does not harm objectivism about morality. Clearly, then, the worrisome premise is P2, called the dependency thesis. The dependency thesis is the claim that what is right and wrong is itself relative to culture this differs from P1 — it is not a claim about beliefs, it is a claim about the nature of right and wrong itself.
Clearly P2 entails relativism about morality. If P2 is true, then C1 cannot be false. Before he attacks P2 he must be sure that he is attacking the right version of P2. As a matter of fact, they differ. In Europe, politeness to a stranger might mean kissing the stranger on both cheeks. What about strong dependence? This is the form of P2 Pojman wants to attack.
The two camps are:. And two people cannot be in disagreement about their feelings. So they can in fact settle interpersonal conflicts.
Thus, there are some objective moral rules. Note that Pojman thinks the argument is valid. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Louis Pojman destroys relativism. Study with us. Practise Questions Religious Studies Guides — Check out our great books in the Shop. I appreciate the information. Leave a Reply Cancel.
Louis Pojman: Against Relativism and For Objectivism
Philosophical arguments aspire to the form of deductive validity. This means that philosophers strive to make their arguments deductively valid. So what a philosopher tries to do is construct a valid argument form, and then make sure that the premises ARE true. In such a case, the conclusion cannot be false. If so, no better argument for that conclusion can be given. Beliefs about what is right and wrong differ across cultures the Diversity thesis. What is right and wrong is dependent upon, or relative to, culture the Dependency thesis.
LOUIS POJMAN A CRITIQUE OF ETHICAL RELATIVISM PDF
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