Wednesday, April 20, 2005

On Relativism: Intro

I've never given too much thought about moral relativism. Its conclusions never struck me as even remotely plausible (how can murder be right?), and there really haven't been many forceful defenses of what I'd call brute relativism (which would be the simple proposition: "murder is right if the actor thinks it is," without caveats and qualifications). As a result, I was never curious about its intellectual foundations, and assumed there was some perfect demolishment out there which I'd get around to reading someday. There is, and I did.

Christian culture, however, has created something of a thriving cottage industry out of chalking up every evil in the modern world to the scourge of relativism. This hyperventilating and borderline pathological tendency seems to have become practically Pavlovian, so there's a lot of questionable thinking out there. Because relativism is being used as the scapegoat for everything from hangnails to starving children in Africa, its use probably merits some kind of investigation. I suppose you could say that, rather than being roused from my dogmatic slumber, I've been poked repeatedly with a sharp stick and forced to wake up and take notice.

Following will most likely be a boring interrogation on how the concept is used and why it's gotten that way (I expect the answer to the latter can be summed thusly: follow the money).