I haven't read or heard a single convincing argument for Moral Objectivism. One is that of convenience (so that moral statements can be logically evaluated leading to conflict resolution), which I immediately discarded (its inspiration seemingly fits the category of wishful thinking). Maybe I have missed an important argument, in which case I can't wait to know it.

Can someone provide or point to a neat outline of the arguments for and against Moral Objectivism and Moral Relativism? A filmed debate on the subject of meta-ethics would be a nice addition to any answer or comment.

If we can help it, let's stick with the terms "Moral Objectivism/Moral Relativism" without using the alternate "Realism/Non-Realism" so not to confuse the unfamiliar reader.

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  • The topic is too big for a quick answer. If you want to overcome this dichotomy between two extreme views try a Buddhist philosopher. Extreme metaphysical views never have a convincing argument behind them because they never work. But to sort out the ethics means first sorting out the ontology and this is probably not the place. – PeterJ Oct 25 '17 at 11:31
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    Hi, welcome to Philosophy SE. Please visit our Help Center to see what questions we answer and how to ask. As is your question is too broad for SE, such outlines are best found in encyclopedia articles, e.g. IEP's Moral Realism. SE is designed for more narrow and pointed questions. – Conifold Oct 25 '17 at 19:52

The problem with moral relativism is that this system is not absolute by definition and objectivism by definition is absolute.

Relativism seems to make stuff up as you go. The answer today might not work tomorrow.

Objectivism seems to use patterns to formulate a universal answer for x. That means come tomorrow the answer will not change.

Which system would you rather? One is iffy with solutions and the other offers certainty provided certain criteria is met.

  • Do you have an example of a moral relativist asserting that relativism amounts to "making stuff up as you go"? And can you clarify these "patterns" you mention? – jeffreysbrother Oct 26 '17 at 16:25
  • Patterns i refer to are the argument patterns. You will find all arguments can be grouped into a category for identification. The pattern determines the category we put the argument in. When i say relativism is making up stuff as you go means the answer can change from day to day. If i change who the person is involved for instance this may alter the result. Thus the answer seems to depend on an authority making the final decision. A different person could resolve a different way. If multiple answers are possible then you dont have certainty. Relativism by definition means not absolute. – Logikal Oct 26 '17 at 17:26
  • I'm no proponent of moral relativism, but I think this might be a poor characterization of it. If you disagree, perhaps you can link to an example of this outlook being supported in philosophical literature. I also don't quite understand your comment regarding arguments; proponents of both schools of thought present arguments in order to support their views. Also, there is no reason to believe that an argument for relativism must rely on authority. – jeffreysbrother Oct 26 '17 at 18:34
  • The authority is the person setting the rule for others. Are you suggesting a free for all where rules are personal? The rules are not for everyone? I was speaking about the arguments formally which you seem to miss. You also steer away from the same scenerio bearing different results which relativism implies by definition. – Logikal Oct 26 '17 at 18:43
  • And I'd say there are many moral objectivists who really believe their destructive "objective" rules are indisputable. Of course, I will assume the probability that something may be untrue (and that's what differentiate me from fanatic). – rus9384 May 24 '18 at 21:09

This is a false dichotomy; into which category would you place moral fictionalism? To me, it seems to require an independent one.

  1. moral objectivism: the truth or falsity of (some) moral judgments are not context-dependent.

  2. moral relativism: the truth or falsity of (some) moral judgments are context-dependent.

  3. moral fictionalism: moral judgments are either meaningless pseudo-judgments, merely pragmatic ways of speaking, or they are reducible to expressions of one's emotion (and are therefore not truth-conducive in the same way that objectivism and relativism assume).

Many Christian thinkers are inclined to support moral objectivism. Some atheists, on the other hand, have asserted that the objective grounding of moral statements is conferred by evolutionary biology (I think Sam Harris believes something along these lines).

For other views, you can look into David Hume and the logical positivists; moral judgments here are characterized as reducible to emotion (emotivism), or meaningless, respectively. It seems clear to me that emotivism does not necessarily imply relativism especially if the statements in question are thought to have no truth value whatsoever.

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