Arguments against Moral Relativism
1. Not an ethical system
Herein lies the first problem; moral relativism is not an ethical system. Why? The reason is best summed up with these questions; what is the difference between a moral relativist and a person without morals? How does a relativist make moral decisions? He decides whatever he thinks is best. How does someone who doesn’t have any morals decide how to act? He decides whatever he thinks is best. Bottom line the moral relativist and the person without morals make moral decisions the exact same way. If a thing is no different from its opposite, then the distinction between the two is meaningless. Thus the first reason moral relativism does not qualify as an ethical system is because moral relativism is equal to having no morals at all.
2. Moral words have no meaning
To the moral relativist words such as rape, murder, courage, honesty, incest, torture, stealing, or love, have no meaning until the relativist gives it meaning. Let me show you what I mean.
Take the word racism. Is racism wrong? Each of you would agree racism is morally reprehensible. However, to the moral relativist it is a meaningless word until either the individual or society says it is right or wrong. If society says racism is right, then it is morally correct to be a racist. Relativists believe all morality is determined by the subject, whether it is the individual or society. The word honesty is neutral until someone says it is good or bad; the same goes for the word courage. Courage is not morally right in and of its self; it must be approved by the individual or society.
Here is how this view can be played out. Your brother is at work and he figures out a way on his computer to move money from his work’s treasury to his own account. If you had asked him, do you think stealing is right or wrong the day before, he would have said it is wrong. However, today he decides stealing is acceptable because the company has so much money and he is underpaid anyway. A moral relativist can justify any action he or she chooses.
After stealing the money and getting away with it, he decides he shouldn’t steal anymore, because it is wrong. Let me ask you, since he feels honesty is now more important, has he morally improved? The answer is no! To improve you need a standard to measure performance. In bowling, improvement means I move closer to the perfect game of 300. If my average bowling scores go up I have improved. However, a moral relativist cannot improve morally; he can only change his mind because no standard exists to measure improvement. If there is no standard, then there is no possibility for improvement.
Remember for the moral relativist, moral words are without meaning until someone gives them meaning. And the relativist cannot improve his or her morality; only change is possible. If torturing babies for fun is good today, a person may change his mind to bad tomorrow; and then back to good the next day. This is why relativists like to live next to those who believe in objective morality.