Full recordShow full item record
AbstractThe purpose of this thesis is to consider the merits of moral relativism. I do not seek to show that moral relativism is superior to its philosophical rivals (such as moral objectivism), but rather to elaborate a view of the status. of morality which can plausibly be labelled "relativistic", and to defend that view against several important objections. I begin by distinguishing moral relativism from competing views, before distinguishing my particular version of moral relativism from other versions of the same general doctrine. I then explain how different moral beliefs can be true for different people, and what determines which beliefs are true for a particular person. The core of the thesis, however, involves considering objections to the doctrine I have elaborated. These objections include: the claim that relativism overlooks the crucial distinction between what someone believes is right and what really is right; the claim that, if relativism is correct, communication between people with different moral beliefs is either impossible or pointless; the claim that Davidson' s critique of conceptual schemes relativism can also be used to show that moral relativism is untenable; and the claim that relativism is self-refuting. I argue that these claims are all mistaken. The relativist need not claim that whatever someone believes to be right is right (for her). On any moderate version of relativism, communication between people with different moral beliefs is neither impossible nor pointless. Similarly, only extreme forms of moral relativism can be shown to be untenable by reference to Davidson's attack on conceptual schemes relativism. Finally, relativism is not self-refuting. These conclusions do not necessarily mean that relativism is correct, however. To determine whether it is correct, one would have to compare its ability to account for important features of moral reasoning with that of its philosophical rivals (in particular, moral objectivism). Such a comparison is beyond the scope of this thesis. My aim is simply to show that such a comparison is necessary, because relativism cannot be shown to be unacceptable on its own terms.
Restricted Access: University of Melbourne Staff and Students Only
TypeMasters Research thesis