Re: new to list

From: Mark Walker (
Date: Fri Aug 24 2001 - 10:49:48 MDT

----- Original Message -----
From: David G. McDivitt <>

> When I have such debates, they sometimes reduce to me asking a person to
> show why he is not a bigot, authoritarian, or fascist, and him asking me
> why I refuse to accept certain common values as absolute.
> >From: "Russell Blackford" <>
> >Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 21:17:01 +1000
> >
> >I'll look forward to some good debates (though I really don't want to
> >up the "spirituality" issue again; any thoughts on cultural relativism?).
What are we talking about here? Cultural relativism is often understood as a
general thesis about the relativity of culture in its entirety, e.g.,
science, morals, art, religion, etc. Perhaps this is what Russell is talking
about. David seems to be speaking about moral relativism, which is a proper
subset of cultural relativism, e.g., one might be a relativist about moral
truths but a nonrelativist about scientific truths or vice-versa.

> I agree morality exists.

I think you need to explain this a bit more. Relativists do not generally
deny that morality exists--indeed, if anything the complaint against
relativists is that they allow for a superabundance of morality. There are
thinkers that deny that morality exists. The Aussi philosopher J L Mackie
famously argued that all moral truths are false because there are no moral
facts, i.e., morality does not exist. Mackie and other error theorists
(Nietzsche is sometimes interpreted this way) do not say that moral truths
are relative to some social group, rather all such claims are false.

>I just do not agree it is always the same, or
> must always be the same.
I am not sure I see the point here. Clearly nonrelativists can allow that
morality is not always the same or must always be the same. Variability
might be a necessary condition for moral relativism but it is not a
sufficient condition. Mark.

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