A Plurality of True Moralities? Tracing ‘Truth’ in Moral Relativism


Commonly understood, moral relativism calls into question the capability of moral judgments to be true in an absolute manner. Yet, what truth means in that regard remains contested. If there is no single true morality, as moral relativists typically suggest, does this imply that there are multiple equally true moralities without any nuances of truth and error? By what standards would the assumption that there are no moral truths itself be either true or false? Setting apart moral relativism as a branch of limited or local relativism from types of universal relativism, it can be shown how moral relativism is relying upon a certain notion of truth in order to sweep away another. Far from shying away from it or fearing it, moral relativism embraces truth as a ‘weapon’ and a criterion of its own adequacy. Without it, moral relativism would not only risk self-defeating inconsistencies; it also would lose its critical potential rendering it a vital enrichment of ethical discourses not only in the eyes of its proponents but also in those of many of its antagonists.

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