According to Mark Schroeder:
Relativist metaethical theories are usefully contrasted with contextualist theories for most purposes, but are committed to normative ethical consequences in a very similar way. In general, whereas contextualists say that one and the same moral sentence may make different claims in different contexts of utterance, even once we have narrowed our attention to a particular moral use of the words in question, relativists say that moral sentences make the same claim across such contexts, but that such claims are not absolutely true or false, but only relative to some perspective.
And that is footnoted to:
See especially MacFarlane .
- MacFarlane, John . Assessment-Sensitivity: Relative Truth and Its Applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Although Schroeder does purport to illustrate the distinction, his example(s) use highly abstract sentences with many placeholders; there's like 4 of them P--perspective, C--context, S--sentence and an 'R' which I have no exact idea what it is.
If you know ‘my context is C’ you can get from ‘ ‘stealing is wrong’ expresses a claim in C that is true with respect to P just in case S’ to ‘ ‘stealing is wrong’ expresses a claim in my context that is true with respect to P just in case S’. But in general, as before, claims of the form ‘ ‘R’ expresses a claim in my context that is true with respect to P just in case it is true that R with respect to P’ express a truth in every context, and so we are committed to the claim, ‘ ‘stealing is wrong’ expresses a claim in my context that is true with respect to P just in case it is true that stealing is wrong with respect to P’.
Does MacFarlane explain this distinction (between contextualism and relativism) in more intelligible fashion, e.g. with some concrete examples?