argument top image

Is morality relative? Show more Show less
Back to question

Morality informs countless aspects of our lives, from the way we interact with others to the way we think about ourselves. But does our concept of morality objectively reflect absolute ideals of good and evil, or is it a shifting, arbitrary rulebook that varies from culture to culture?

No, morality is absolute Show more Show less

Though humanity's definitions of good and evil may change, objective morality exists outside of time, place, and culture.
< (3 of 3)

Across time and culture, moral standards have remained largely absolute

Naturally, some moral norms change, but cultures across the map and throughout history all agree on many of the most important and fundamental "rules."

The Argument

Needless to say, moral norms have shifted throughout history. From gay marriage to racial equality to abortion, public opinion has changed drastically on many hot-button issues-but when it comes to the most fundamental elements of morality, humanity’s views have remained largely consistent. Looking back, we can see that many of the basic “rules” we abide by today have existed for nearly 50 million years, when Homo sapiens began to live in social groups. Even the earliest cultures agreed that it is good to respect authority, return favors, love your family, and be loyal to your group. Likewise, early humans agreed that it is bad to steal, lie, and murder. In the beginning, the morals people abided by were likely survival tactics to help groups operate as smoothly as possible, but as humans evolved, our sense of morality did the same. Of course, some argue that early societies just happened to arrive at some moral truths by chance, but this point is easily rebutted when we examine the sheer amount of cultures, all around the world, that arrived at the same moral conclusions around the same time. Clearly, this is no mere coincidence. Rather, morality is absolute, and regardless of time and place, humanity has retained roughly the same understanding of it.

Counter arguments

This argument glosses over the countless moral atrocities that were normalized throughout history. From the Crusades to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to the Salem Witch Trials, people have condoned actions that we would consider heinous crimes today, indicating that mankind has not always held a consistent moral code. Further, this argument asserts that though some minor, less significant moral norms have changed, humanity has "gotten the gist" of morality throughout history, arriving at the most important moral truths early on. This assertion is patently untrue. Although the human race has kept roughly the same stance on moral issues like murder, theft, and cheating, it has changed dramatically on topics that we would no doubt consider crucial today, especially issues of human rights for marginalized communities.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

This page was last edited on Saturday, 1 Aug 2020 at 18:40 UTC

Explore related arguments