Academic Master


Discuss the Difference between Absolutism and Relativism in Ethics

Ethics is also recognized as a moral philosophy. It is a category of philosophy involved with the study of inquiries about correct and incorrect conduct and how we should live our lives. Living according to ethical standards means considering things away from one’s benefits (Banks 3).

There are two perspectives on following these ethics. Some believe that principles of behavior and ways of performing things vary from one society to another. Therefore, there can never be one particular principle for all persons everywhere, and we must build ethical verdicts by each condition. Such an approach to setting policies is known as Relativism. On the other hand, some claim that every society in the world needs to follow only one set of correct ethical principles. The people who are developing such ethical standards are representing themselves as being in favor of absolutism (Banks 8).

Ethical relativists claim that the things that are correct or incorrect, within the principles of ethics, may differ majorly from one individual to another or from one culture to another. In other opinions, as Arrington (1983) opposes, we cannot merely say that an ethical interpretation is accurate for all reasons, individuals, and societies. He says we can only proclaim that it is valid for a particular being or cultural group. Relativism doesn’t teach us to judge people from another culture and declare their conduct wrong; we should see that individual by the principles of the culture where he lives. In other words, ethical values are unbiased only if perceptions about correct and incorrect are made relatively (Banks 8).

On the other hand, absolutism argues that there stays a constant and consistent ethical law that is similar for all individuals, at all intervals and places. The absolutists consider that some moral values are employed by all people universally and that persons can identify or govern these moralities and be directed by them in determining the character of their actions and assessing the effects of others. Also, the moral absolutist, being previously conscious of these values, has confidence in himself or herself and is competent enough to give interpretation to everyone. Absolutism is acknowledged as effective irrespective of thinking and sensitivity. This situation contradicts relativism in that there is no possibility of concern about other viewpoints because it is debated that there is merely one fundamental outlook (Banks, 10).

An instance of an absolutist stance arises in disputes about capital penalties. Jonathan Glover identifies two absolutist opinions. One is emphatic that the killer must be provided with the sentences he or she justifies, which is deceased, and the former can see no defense for judicial killing under any situation. An absolutist would not modify his or her assessment regarding capital penalties, which does not concern what point of view was provided by whichever side (Banks, 10).

Many questions arise about the standards being persistent all over the world. On the one hand, ethical relativists will continue to say that they should not interpret, and no singular fact exists that employs throughout cultures and nations. On the other hand, the moral absolutist will contend that only one truth must be applied throughout all cultures and values irrespective of principles and beliefs. In support of ethical relativism, it can be said that it is accurate in cautioning us contrary to considering that our moral values symbolize some absolute principle, because several, though not all, of our ethical principles, employ to our own culture. Also, ethical relativism imparts us the worth of an open mind, patience, and acceptance (Banks, 10).

Works Cited

Banks, Cyndi. Criminal Justice Ethics: Theory and Practice. SAGE, 2017.



Calculate Your Order

Standard price





Pop-up Message