Moral Objectivism Vs. Moral Relativism: a Philosophical Debate

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1017 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 1017|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Decision-Making of Moral Relativism
  3. Counterarguments Against Moral Relativism
  4. Conclusion
  5. References


In our various societies or communities today, people have various ways they behave or react to situations as well as different reasons for taking decisions in order to ensure fulfillment. The general discipline that ensures this is known as ethics. Ethics deals with what is good and bad in relation to moral duty and obligation. Seeing as human beings are rational, they have free will when it comes to making decisions. However, these decisions are guided by principles known as morals. Morality, in simple terms, refers to the dos and don’ts of an individual. It is ultimately a personal compass of right and wrong. Basically, ethics which are external; come from social systems while morals come from within an individual. When it comes to morality, people may take their decisions depending on what the individual/immediate society thinks (moral relativism) or on moral facts and these facts are not a matter of opinion (moral objectivism).

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Decision-Making of Moral Relativism

Moral relativism (as held by Michel Foucault (1926-1984) and Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996)) is a matter of opinion and it entails actions of an individual depending on what the individual thinks is right or wrong. It also involves what the immediate society or community perceives to be right or wrong. These “moral specifics” differ from person to person and from community to community. That is, stealing from a shop could be considered right depending on the situation in which the individual or the community is in. Moral objectivism (as held by however, holds the view that what is right or wrong does not depend on what an individual thinks is right or wrong but rather, is based on moral facts which are generally known to be right or wrong. It takes into consideration the consequences of an action (that is, the right thing to do is that which is likely to bring happiness overall) as well as the kind of act it is based on the Categorical Imperative (that is, the right kind of act is one willed to be a universal law). John Finnis and Thomas Aquinas are notable moral objectivists. I hold the bearing that moral objectivism is right and decisions should be generally taken based on this view.

Counterarguments Against Moral Relativism

To justify my stance, I would counter theories in relation to moral relativism. First of all, based on the views of moral relativists, it could be said that they believed in the theory that just because they like something or a decision is profitable to them or their society means it is good or right. Simply speaking, they believed that, “ABC is good” is synonymous with “I like ABC” or “ABC is good” is synonymous “ABC is ordained by my society”. (Huemer, 1992). What the relativists are basically saying is that because someone steals bread just for the sake of the joy it brings to them when they are hungry means that it is good and evidently right. This theory is clearly wrong because the relativists are unclear of the fact that something’s being good is different from its being liked. The objectivists however, understand the fact that things should be done/ decisions should be taken not for one’s fulfillment of desire but for the sake of doing what is morally right. Also, to call something good expresses value or normative judgment whereas, something being liked by someone or in this case, ordained by the society, expresses descriptive judgment and the result is a naturalistic fallacy. With that being analyzed, the theory of the relativists clearly counters itself. Logically speaking too, if the theory was right, then we would be able to say, “I like ABC because I like ABC or ABC is good because ABC is good”. But this clearly does not make any sense. Therefore, “the good” should not be “what I like” and this is what the objectivists hold. That is, they believe there are basic principles and these are valid and should be applied in all situations. This means that the right thing to do may not necessary be pleasing or profitable to an individual or a society but that is what must be done to produce happiness and fulfillment overall.

Secondly, the fact that moral relativists believe that anything could be right or correct based on the situation or perspective of the individual or society involved means that they are of the idea that value judgments are universally false. (Huemer, 1992). Basically, the relativists are saying here that people are not to eat when hungry or happiness is a bad thing people should not rest when tired and as we all know, this makes no sense. The relativists here are not being realistic because they believe that, for instance, if Mr. J is really hungry and goes to buy some fruits from the store, Mr. B could come and steal the fruits which Mr. J bought just because Mr. B is also hungry. Mr. B here feels that he was right to do that because he was also hungry but he completely ignores the fact that not only was Mr. J hungry, he also bought the fruits with his money. In this instance now, Mr. B has completely denied Mr. J the right to eat when he was hungry or enjoy the value of his money and this is completely wrong. Although not directly expressed, it could be implied that the relativists here, Mr. B does not believe that Mr. J should eat when hungry, thereby rendering the value judgment of satisfaction or happiness false. The moral objectivists however, believe that one has the right and should eat when hungry and therefore should not steal another’s meal just because he is also hungry as well.

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In conclusion, it is intellectually lazy and perhaps false to say that morality is a matter of opinion (moral relativism). (Huemer, 1992) . Rather, moral objectivism has the right principles and set of standards in which decisions should be taken and should be the order of the day.


  1. Huemer, Michael. 'Moral Objectivism.' (1992). Retrieved from
  2. Philosophy Now. 'Our Morality: A Defense of Moral Objectivism.' Retrieved from
  3. Wikipedia. 'Value judgment.' Retrieved from
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Moral Objectivism vs. Moral Relativism: A Philosophical Debate. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from
“Moral Objectivism vs. Moral Relativism: A Philosophical Debate.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
Moral Objectivism vs. Moral Relativism: A Philosophical Debate. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Dec. 2023].
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