Absolutely relative

There is a school of thought that believes in the concept of relativism, where there is no absolute truth or validity in different perspectives, where everything can be subject to different considerations and thus mean differently — even ethics, as in moral relativism. However, how true is this concept that everything is interdependent and relative? And if moral relativism is true, why then have we tried so hard to make everyone follow a same set of rules, as in law? In order to answer these questions, we need to look at the opposing school of thought — Universality. As Steven Robiner says it “What is absolutely true is always correct, everywhere, all the time, under any condition. An entity’s ability to discern these things is irrelevant to the state of truth.”

In my opinion, people believe in relativism when they hope that truth is not absolute. Conversely, people believe in universality because they want truth to be absolute and they want people to be accountable to whatever they do. To illustrate, which school of thought would a murderer hope is true when he faces the jury that is about to charge him with murder based on the law? Obviously he is going to hope that the jury is relativist. On the other hand, a victim of a crime would hope for universality so that justice would be served, at least from his perspective. What this shows is that people prefer to believe in what they want to be true as that school of thought would confer the greatest benefit to them.

I believe that with our limited knowledge on the world around us, it would be beyond our ability to prove which school of thought is right, but one thing is for sure — we believe what we hope is true, and what we hope tells us who we are inside.



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