A Commentary on Moral Relativism

I've been wanting to write about moral relativism ever since I attended a local symposium entitled "The Constitution . . . in the Age of Obama". While the symposium was supposed to be about the Constitution, the symposium speakers spoke more about moral relativism and the natural law. The reason for this is that the Constitution, as written by the founders of the USA, was written from the basis of natural rights, which has a direct relationship with natural law.

While there are many theories on what constitutes natural law, all the theories have commonalities, namely that there exists law(s) which are set by nature (and by extension, God. if you're a monotheist) that are valid everywhere. Thomas Jefferson believed in natural law, as did Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. The idea of natural law has been around for thousands of years.

So what is moral relativism? And where did it come from? Dr. Charles E. Rice, who spoke at the symposium I mentioned above, explained that the modern idea of moral relativism came about during the Enlightenment period of the 18th century. The ideas of moral relativism can be summed up in 3 main ideas:

1. There is no God/divine being
2. Everything is relative
3. The individual is most important

A moral relativist would say there is no such thing as a universal moral truth. Since there is no God/divine being, religion makes no sense, and all moral teaching originating from religions is only true for those religions. Right or wrong only depends on your point of view. And the only measurement for what's right is each individual's own views. What may be right for one person might not necessarily be right for another. There are no universal truths.

The ideas of moral relativism are common in our present American culture. One can see moral relativism ideas common among scientists, artists, entertainers, journalists, and politicians, to name only some highly influential people.

We can see the implications of moral relativism.


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