Is my rationale correct here?:

If relativism is relative, relativism is a contradiction in itself, because you’re forced to believe what other people think is morally correct, is correct for them, and since it’s possible that someone (let’s call them person A) can be led to believe that objectivism is always the case in morality, then relativists are forced to believe that objectivism is the case for person A, but if moral objectivism is true for person A, then absolute relativism isn't. In other words, relativism is impossible if there’s someone who believes morality is objective, because if they do, it is correct according to relativists, but if objectivism is correct, then absolute relativism is not.

And if relativism is not relative, and it’s the only objective thing in morality, that means relativism isn’t the case because there would exist something that’s objectively moral: relativism. You can’t force relativism onto everyone, because if you do, you make relativism objective, and if it’s objective, it’s not relative.

Therefore, absolute relativism is impossible and there must be at least one objective moral truth

  • If there is objective truth in morality then relativism is more psychological than important in the field of Philosophy. Those people who believe in relativism typically don't understand deductive reasoning terminology & are confused. Propositions about reality do NOT depend on what people FEEL, WITH WHAT THEY AGREE WITH, WHAT THEY IDENTIFY WITH, etc. A proposition that is meaningful in reality must be either true or false with no wiggle room. For instance, either abortion is immoral or it is moral. There is no third option. Reasoning must show WHY, not feelings or beliefs.
    – Logikal
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 7:02
  • 6
    No. I think your argument mixes epistemic relativism (about truth/knowledge) with moral relativism (about values). Absolute epistemic relativism is self-contradictory because its claim that everything is relative is negated when applied to itself. But the claim that all values are relative is not self-contradictory in this way. That someone believes that morality is objective does not force moral relativists to agree, as long as they are not also epistemic relativists. They can claim that, speaking objectively, such a person is mistaken, and, in fact, all morality is relative.
    – Conifold
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 7:41
  • I am not sure 'absolute relativism' makes enough sense that your question can mean anything. The idea that absolute relativism contradicts itself may be more that the adjective 'absolute', applied to 'relativism' can mean many, many different things, given that ths is the nature of what relativism is, and you have picked one. It just obviously isn't the right one for you. Commented Jun 9, 2021 at 19:22

5 Answers 5


Not quite. Person A might believe that Objectivism is true and always the case but a believer in Moral Relativism would believe that each persons view of morality is true FOR THEM ONLY. As an objective morality has to be universally true, it cannot be simultaneously true for both the relativist and the objectivist. Therefore, under the worldview of relativism, objectivism CANNOT be universally true but it can be personally true for individual objectivists meaning that it is, in fact, relativism in disguise.

I THINK that your second point is also flawed, though I may be mistaken and am open to correction. Here is my reasoning:

An objective fact is one that exists, and is true, independent of the the people who believe it. A relative fact which is imposed on a population may become universally accepted but it will not be objective simply because everyone believes it to be true. Everyone may be mistaken.

If you force relativism onto everyone it does not become objective, it simply becomes universal. For Relativism to become objective it would have to be true and accurate, even in the absence of any Relativists.


You’ve left out the possibility of Moral Nihilism from your argument - that there might be no moral truths, and everyone is wrong about any affirmations of moral value, including moral nihilists, because morality statements fail to refer to facts.

Not to say that moral nihilism is a conclusion you should draw - more that your argument requires more to conclude the positive existence of moral facts from the falsehood of relativism.


An objective morality would have to exist beyond human comprehension, as a Kantian thing-in-itself. In contrast, the individual human take on morality is a personal, relative morality.

A major part of Nietzsche's project was to disabuse us of the notion of the thing-in-itself. For example, from his unpublished notes:

The Will to Power, 558

The thing-in-itself is nonsense. If I think all the "relations," all the "qualities" all the "activities" of a thing, away, the thing itself does not remain: for "thingness" was only invented fancifully by us to meet certain logical needs—that is to say, for the purposes of definition and comprehension (in order to correlate that multitude of relations, qualities, and activities).

It's a conundrum though, because there must be something that humans interpret. Perhaps the world beyond appearance is a lot thinner and simpler than one would suppose, and we only imagine an objective morality, from which we each take a relative version.


Is absolute moral relativism impossible?

No. Not only is it possible, but it is fact.

Having a moral sense is probably specific to gregarious species, in particular the human species. A moral code only applies within a social community and will be specific to that community. It is a consequence of both natural selection and the social relations within a community. It is therefore relative to it.

However, the fact that our moral sense and any moral code are relative is, well, a fact, and facts are absolute, or as absolute as anything could possibly be, at least as far as we know. So, it is an absolute that our moral sense and our moral codes are relative.

relativism is impossible if there’s someone who believes morality is objective, because if they do, it is correct according to relativists

No, this argument doesn't work. Only people who believe morality is absolute will think of a moral code as "correct". People who believe that our moral sense is relative to the community will not think of it a "correct or not correct", but as a rule imposed, one way or the other, on members of the community.

you make relativism objective, and if it’s objective, it’s not relative.

That we have moral codes is of course objective. Since different communities have different moral codes, it is clear that moral codes are also relative, and relative to communities.

Our moral sense is subjective in the sense that we don't know what is the moral sense of other people. It is subjective but most likely relative to natural selection in the sense that different species seem to have a different moral sense, if we judge by their behaviour. For example, a lion that takes over a pride, after killing the male that presided over it until that moment, will also kill the cubs fathered by its predecessor. Our moral sense is subjective but the fact that we have a moral sense is objective in the sense that we all agree that we have a moral sense and that we justify our moral codes on the basis of our moral sense.

Whether or not our moral sense is objective, our moral codes are. And there is little doubt that they are relative to communities, even sometimes to specific individuals.



Moral relativism is the view that: (1) Moral sentences express propositions (moral sentences are either true or false), and (2) The truth-value of a given moral proposition can vary relative to something or someone (cultures, individuals, attitudes, etc.).

"Killing babies is always wrong." This moral sentence, for the relativist, is a proposition—it's either true or false, so it's not some kind of non-cognitive expression of emotion or opinion. Furthermore, whether or not this proposition is true or false, for the relativist, can vary relative to something or someone. For one culture, it might be true; for another, it might be false.

What you're missing is this: For the relativist, the truth-value of any moral proposition is up for grabs—what's right and wrong or good and evil can vary relative to individuals, cultures or societies (it depends on which kind of relativism is being endorsed). Moral truths are relative.

But this doesn't subject moral relativism itself to relativism. The truth of moral relativism isn't about right and wrong or good and bad, it's about the nature of these terms. In other words: The claim that moral relativism is true isn't a moral claim.

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