How Relativism Promotes Pluralism and Tolerance
Relativism is the belief that the principles of truth, right and wrong vary between cultures and there are no collective criteria for judgment. With that being said, it is a view that moral beliefs are relative. They are a function of the individuals or societies that believe in them.
There are no objective moral values or right or wrong. There are two versions of relativism. Individual and cultural. Individual relativism means that ethical statements are only relative to the individual. Person A has his own ethical views, whereas Person B has its own. The views of Person A are not better or more correct than that of Person B. both individuals are equally correct. The idea of being correct or wrong does not apply or moral beliefs since this would mean there’s an objective standard to measure right or wrong. There is no standard of judgment.
Cultural relativism means ethics are only relative to a particular individual or society. Societies might disagree on what’s right and wrong. Right and wrong are determined by society. Although society might believe its views are correct, cultural relativism insists that the views of one society are not better than that of others. Hence, there is no objective standard of evaluating the beliefs of a society and passing a verdict that it’s right or wrong.
Relativism and Pluralism
Relativism says that each individual or a group of individuals define their own ethics, truth, choose these own values and none of them are inherently any more true, valuable, and ethical than any others.
Pluralism, on the other hand, says there are several moral values. It says there is more than one aspect of reality. However, it does not comment on the validity of the perceptions of others as the ultimate reality. It describes the state of society without judging the state of another.
Pluralism also recognizes that diversities exist. These could be racial, gender-oriented, religious, and racial, and others. It could be said that America is a plural society. Here, we are representing hard facts, not judgments. Statements like these may provoke judgment and lead to a critical evaluation, though. Pluralism leaves people alone to peruse their own ends. Pluralism does not convince others to adopt your ethics, values, and truth even if you believe you are right and the other person is wrong.
The “live and let” attitude might be similar to relativism but both have different philosophical standpoints. Because of this, some people consider relativism and pluralism as the same thing. Pluralists don’t have to believe that values are grounded in the beliefs of individuals or societies that hold them. A relativist, on the other hand, says that people must seek justice if their society values justices or if they (the particular person) values justice. The pluralist believes that everyone must seek justice and peace even though the society or person thinks they are under no such obligations.
Relativism and Tolerance
Relativism and Tolerance are common in modern culture. Relativism shows that our personal moral codes do not apply to others. This eliminates the reasons for interfering based on moral codes. It is believed that relativism is a preferred ethical system in the modern world because it promotes tolerance as a significant virtue. However, many fail to understand that being relativist does not mean you are tolerant of the cultures of other people.
Cultural relativism says that morality is defined by culture. Consider the example that you live in a society having a culture asserting it is a moral obligation to be intolerant to the cultures of others. This would mean your tolerance is immoral behavior. Another interesting thing is that to be tolerant, you must accept the objective moral truth. Being a relativist, it is impossible to disagree with the culture of others.
This confirms that tolerance is not a value of relativism. In other words, because you are a relativist, you don’t need to be tolerant of other people. If you think that everyone must be tolerant of the beliefs, opinions, and practices of others, then you are not being a relativist.
Relativism argues that there are no universal standards for setting ethics. These ethics are instead products or cultural consensus. This belief also rejects the possibility of judging the actions of others. The concept of Relativism only encourages tolerance for differences but it does not tolerances towards beliefs and opinions of others. Pluralism, however, is the social agreement that people with different views have the right to be heard, without being judged, because there are multiple realities to the situation.
Author: Vicki Lezama