Can Perspective Relativism be Defended in the Face of the Evident Evil That Terrorists Bring About?

Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 69:289-293 (2018)
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In this paper, it is argued that terrorism undermines the justification of perspective relativism. The cliché, “one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter,” is offered as an example of perspective relativism. Perspective relativists argue that moral principles and judgments have no universal moral import. Those who defend the cliché expression presuppose that the evaluation of terrorism is necessarily perspectival. For them, there are no morally objective differences, e.g., between deliberately killing combatants and deliberately killing innocent noncombatants. Yet there are morally objective differences between these two acts. While the first act might be justified, the second act is considered murder. Hence, the evaluation of terrorism is not necessarily perspectival. Therefore, in the face of the evil that terrorists bring about, it is argued that perspective relativists have a substantive burden of proof to show that there are no transcultural moral values.

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Vicente Medina
Seton Hall University


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