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Notes and Reflections on Books and Media

by Hannah Leitheiser

Relativism

The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values

Sam Harris

2011

Link

2019-09-16

Moral relativism, however, tends to be self-contradictory. Relativists may say that moral truths exist only relative to a specific cultural framework—but this claim about the status of moral truth purports to be true across all possible frameworks. In practice, relativism almost always amounts to the claim that we should be tolerant of moral difference because no moral truth can supersede any other. And yet this commitment to tolerance is not put forward as simply one relative preference among others deemed equally valid. Rather, tolerance is held to be more in line with the (universal) truth about morality than intolerance is. The contradiction here is unsurprising. Given how deeply disposed we are to make universal moral claims, I think one can reasonably doubt whether any consistent moral relativist has ever existed. - Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (2011)