I am continuing the conversation I had with Hito (part 9) while hiking in Yosemite. I then asked him…
- Who is the positive moral hero of moral relativism?
He looked at me and said I’ve never been asked that question. I pointed out the moral hero of helping the poor is Mother Teresa. The moral hero of nonviolent passive resistance is Ghandi. The moral hero of living a sinless life is Jesus Christ. So I asked him, who is the moral hero of relativism? When he said I don’t know I then told him the moral hero is a sociopath. You see a sociopath is a person that does what he or she wants to do; a moral relativist does what he or she wants to do; there is no difference between a sociopath and a moral relativist. Many sociopaths are currently serving time in prison. I asked him, do you want to follow a moral viewpoint that makes a sociopath the moral champion? That question puzzled him. He told me he had never thought of it like that and would have to give it more thought. I had unsettled him and really had him thinking. Lastly, I said…
- Moral relativism cannot be lived
Dr. JP Moreland, a professor of philosophy at Talbot Seminary, was talking with a student who told Dr. Moreland that all morals are relative and that it wasn’t right for others to force their morality. As Dr. Moreland was leaving he picked up the students stereo and began to walk out. When the student protested Dr. Moreland said, “Stealing a stereo may go against your morality but don’t you dare push your morality on me. My morality allows me to steal.” After a few more steps out the door he turned around and put the stereo back. He had made his point and showed the inconsistency of trying to live as a moral relativist.
On another occasion Dr. Moreland was talking with a colleague who was a moral relativist and an environmentalist. Dr. Moreland told the environmentalist about his college days when he and his buddies would go into the back country with barrels of acid and pour the acid into a lake and bet on how many fish would die and rise to the surface. The environmentalist went ballistic and began to tell him how wrong it was to destroy a lake environment. Dr. Moreland said, “John why are you having a problem with this. I have my morals and you have yours. You don’t have the right to judge my morals and tell me I can’t kill fish if my morality says I can.” The story was fictitious but again he made the point that people can’t live as moral relativists.
I have found the bottom line is this: When moral decisions benefit the person and it’s what they want to do, they are relativists; when it causes them harm they are absolutists. This is why nobody can live consistently as a moral relativist.
All four arguments I presented to Hito were powerful and can be used by anyone who wants to dismantle relativism. I usually use them in the same order as my conversation: As a moral relativist 1) You cannot say Hitler was wrong for murdering 6 million Jews, 2) If you lived in Germany and opposed Hitler you were immoral, 3) You have to answer, “Who is the positive moral hero of moral relativism?”, 4) You cannot live as a Moral relativist. Memorize these arguments and you have a powerful tool for helping moral relativists abandon their viewpoint.