Sophism and Moral Agnosticism, or, How to Tell a Relativist from a Pluralist

The Pluralist 6 (1):87-108 (2011)
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Is it possible to recognize the limits of rationality, and thus to embrace moral pluralism, without embracing moral relativism? My answer is yes; nevertheless, certain anti-foundational positions, both recent and ancient, take a cynical stance toward the possibility of any critical moral judgment, and as such, must be regarded as relativistic.1 It is such cynicism, I argue, whether openly announced or unknowingly implied, that marks the distinction between relativism and pluralism.2 The danger of this cynicism is not so much that it renders the categorical acceptance of a particular moral view unattainable, but that it renders categorical condemnation of any particular position (or action) impossible.3 Two ..

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Lawrence Torcello
Rochester Institute of Technology


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