Moral Relativism and Moral Disagreement

In Maria Baghramian, J. Adam Carter & Rach Cosker-Rowland (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Disagreement. Routledge (forthcoming)
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This chapter focuses on the connection between moral disagreement and moral relativism. Moral relativists, generally speaking, think both (i) that there is no unique objectively correct moral standard and (ii) that the rightness and wrongness of an action depends in some way on a moral standard accepted by some group or an individual. This chapter will first consider the metaphysical and epistemic arguments for moral relativism that begin from the premise that there is considerable amount of moral disagreement both within individual societies and between them. The second half of the chapter, by contrast, focuses on the objection that moral relativism threatens to make us unable to have moral disagreements because it seems to make us speak past one another. This part of the chapter also evaluates relativist responses to this disagreement problem that rely on semantic opacity, disagreement in attitude, metalinguistic negotiations, and truth relativism. The chapter finally concludes by considering future directions of research in this area.

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Jussi Suikkanen
University of Birmingham


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