Moral Absolutism

Moral Absolutism




Moral Absolutism

Moral absolutism is defined as a belief in absolute ethical standards that provides a basis for judgment of moral issues. It creates a classification of actions as either ethically correct or wrong irrespective of their circumstances or contexts. Moral absolutism and relativism are among some of the most renowned principles used to confer judgment on social or individual actions. Moral relativism is understood as the beliefs and actions that can be deemed as either right or wrong in terms of social circumstances such as culture. Thus, moral absolutism is appropriate for the American society due to the presence of a large number of diverse ethnic and cultural groups with varying beliefs and considerations of right and wrong. The principle provides an appropriate means of developing a common ground in terms of ethical and moral considerations of right and wrong.

Arguments made have been between moral relativism and absolutism. Moral relativism can be defined as a principle of individual activities and beliefs founded on context and circumstances. Criticisms note that moral absolutism is ineffective in the sense that it assumes that absolute truth in humanity is present whereas in the quest for absolute truth society results to oppression. It is also noted that morality is itself a state of mind, which determines individual choices and subsequent actions. For instance, issues of gender parity may seem sensible to a majority of members of National Organization for Women, but highly unacceptable to religious right groups. This illustrates a case of moral relativism whereby individuals determine right or wrong based on their circumstances and contexts (Reich, 2004).

Truth is seen as relative to context or circumstance. Thus, the concept of truth is relative to free society from an American perspective and moral postulate for Americans. It is believed that for different religious groups such as Baptists, Roman Catholics, Atheists, Protestants, and Hindus. Evidence from Americas past, with specific reference to the Puritan society, illustrates that absolute truth is elusive and results to oppression. During this period, America’s society was marked by brutality and inhumane treatment of individuals who held differing views from those of the puritans, given that they held the belief that they were right. This also extends to other aspects of America’s society, which resulted in the Civil War, racism, xenophobia and unrelenting chauvinism (Centore, 2008).

Moral absolutism is founded on the belief of an absolute truth in terms of defining right or wrong. It assumes an inflexible position in terms of its ethical considerations rather than providing platforms to accommodate changes in the definition of truth, right and wrong. It is also important to note that moral relativism is inherent of many risks such as individual translations and understanding of right and wrong, which has resulted in the decline of morality (Albert, 2005).

A combination of both moral relativism and absolutism is appropriate as both views provide a challenge in terms of their single application in a culturally diverse and modern society (Brogaard, 2012). The solution in America’s society, which has been marked by issues such as racism and social inequality in the past, lies in tolerance, mutual respect, and open-mindedness. America is a free society, which means that individuals hold differing definitions of truth in terms of right and wrong. This is an express definition of moral relativism whereby the designation of right and wrong is based on individual circumstances. This is a challenge as it results in different views of ethics and morality, which may be irreconcilable as they hold varied views that in terms of relative absolute truth that is influenced by their respective circumstances and contexts. It is imperative that the American society adopts a combination of both moral relativism and absolutism as they hold varying levels of importance in modern American society.


Albert, M. (2005). Absolutism of Value and Relativity of Morals in the Foundations of Human Rights. Mediterranean Journal of Human Rights (M.J.H.R.), 9(2), 15-29.

Brogaard, B. (2012). Moral Relativism and Moral Expressivism. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 50, (4), 538-556.

Centore, F. F. (2008). Two views of virtue: Absolute relativism and relative absolutism. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

Reich, R. (2004). God, gays, and guns Moral absolutism battles for control of the nation. New Statesman London-, 4711, 16-18.

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