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GRAHAM ODDIE MORAL REALISM, MORAL RELATIVISM AND MORAL RULES (A COMPATIBILITY ARGUMENT)

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Abstract

Relativism and realism are often held to be in conflict. It is not obvious what the exact nature of the conflict is supposed to be, because it is not obvious what the two doctrines amount to. But that there is some kind of conflict between moral realism and moral relativism is evidenced by the fact that some take moral relativism to be the straightforward denial of moral realism. David Brink, for example, baldly states that ‘Moral relativism is usually understood as a denial of realism or objectivity about ethics’ (Brink 1989, 43). This definitional thesis is wrong. Even so, in the case of morality at least the tension between the two seems clear enough. Why? The moral realist holds inter alia that there are objective truths in the moral domain, and further that these objective truths are not mere human artefacts, but are backed up by special kinds of facts. The moral relativist, on the other hand, claims that judgements of right and wrong, permissibility and obligation, and so on, are in an important sense socially constructed; that they are human artefacts, perhaps of a very sophisticate

Year: 2010
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