Post Author: Darrell
Re-post from Aug. 6, 2010
Beckwith and Koukl’s fourth fatal flaw is as follows: Relativists can’t make charges of unfairness or injustice. As a concept, unfairness hinges upon an external standard of right. By definition, something is considered fair or unfair when it is in line or out of line with an external standard of right.
Unfortunately, to the moral relativist no such standard exists. Instead they believe that right is relative to the individual or society in question. As such, they are truly unable to deem anything fair or unfair. For example, as cited in the first post, the relativist may personally believe that it was unfair for Nazi Germany to slaughter millions of Jews. However, if Germany considered their actions to be right, and if right is relative to the individual or society in question, then by Germany’s standards of right and wrong they were being fair. Consequently, the moral relativist is unable to declare Germany’s actions unfair.
The moral relativist is equally incapable of making the charge of injustice, for the concept of justice also hinges upon the existence of an external standard of right. Justice involves punishing those who are guilty of wrongdoing. However, in order for someone to be guilty of something, they necessarily have to have violated an external standard of right. Since the moral relativist believes that right and wrong are relative to the individual or society in which one lives, they are incapable of declaring anyone guilty of anything. Perhaps the realtivist doesn’t like the fact that someone stole their car or the fact that a society refuses to punish a parent who abuses his children, but they are incapable of judging these actions as unjust unless there is an external standard by which to judge these actions as guilty.
Fifth Flaw: Relativists are incapable of improving their morality. Improvement involves getting better at something when compared to an external objective standard. However, to the moral relativist no such standard of morality exists. Therefore, there is no standard of moratlity to which ones moral conduct can be compared. This renders the concept of moral improvement incoherent to the worldview of moral relativism.
Stick around! The next post will address the final two flaws.