The way things go: moral relativism and suspension of judgment

Perez-Navarro, Eduardo

VL / 179 - BP / - EP /
A popular accusation against moral relativism is that it goes too far in its vindication of tolerance. The idea behind accusations like this can be summarized in the slogan, frequently attributed to relativism, that "anything goes". The aim of this paper is to defend moral relativism from the accusation that it is an "anything goes" view; from the accusation that it forces us to suspend our judgment in cases in which we do not think we should even be allowed to. In the end, relativism is not an "anything goes" view because it is not a view about what goes, but about the way things go-about what goes on when we say that something is morally right or wrong. There is indeed a view, sometimes called "relativism", that forces us to suspend our judgment about practices that do not allow for such comfort, but it is not so much moral relativism as moral contextualism. Apparently, though, the most salient alternative to "anything goes" views such as contextualism is not moral relativism. It is moral objectivism, according to which there is a fact of the matter about moral issues. However, I show that moral objectivism too ends up being an "anything goes" view unless the objectivist takes herself to be endowed with "God's point of view", which I prove troublesome.

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