Let’s start with the least common denominator. A common response from the relativists was that stealing, rape, and murder are immoral. How did all societies across all times and peoples decide that there is a single global morality? How does one know that killing is wrong if morality is not absolute? If morality is relative to your personal preference, then killing can’t be wrong for everyone. It may be wrong for you, but not for someone else.
Relativists claim that some morality is absolute, but most morality is relative, so which is it? The main premise of the relativist responses is faulty. For conversation’s sake though, let’s press a little further.
Where is the fine line between society’s morality and my morality? Relativists agree that stealing is wrong. Let’s say that my morality allows me to steal food from the grocery store. I believe this action is good because I need to feed my family. But the grocery store owner doesn’t like losing money because I’m not paying for the food. In a relativist society, who is in the right? Me or the grocery store owner? The answer is neither! We each have our versions of morality. I believe stealing is good because I have good intentions – feeding my family. The grocery store owner thinks stealing is bad because he loses money and it hurts his business. In a relativist society, what should happen to me? Should I be punished because stealing is bad? Should I be let off the hook because my intentions and actions were in line with my morality?
A relativist society can’t answer these simple questions because it has to make an absolute judgment. Society will have to determine if my action was good or bad, whether I am punished or let off the hook.
Taking the relativist argument to its’ logical conclusion is nonsensical and impractical. This type of society cannot exist. A society in which morality is relative to the individual delves into absolute chaos.
Let’s do another example. This time we’ll bypass the stealing, rape, and murder examples for something more nuanced.
Person A believes one can choose their gender in that boys can choose to be girls and girls can choose to be boys. But someone else in the same society, Person B, believes one cannot choose their gender, boys are boys and girls are girls. In a relativist society, who is right? The correct answer is neither because no one can be “right” in a relativist society. They cannot make any judgments on another’s morality.
This is fine if they keep their personal beliefs to themselves. But what happens when their beliefs impact society?
Let’s say Person A’s boy chooses to be a girl. Person A assists their child to transition from a boy to a girl. Now, Person A’s girl, who has the physicality of a boy, wants to play sports on the girls’ team. Person B’s girl is already on the girls’ team. Person A believes it is right for her now-daughter to be on the sports team. Meanwhile, Person B does not believe it is right for a former boy to play on the girls’ team since he/she would dominate against biological females.
Now, what is society to do? This has nothing to do with murder, rape, or stealing. This is a personal preference. Yet, Person A and Person B have differing personal preferences that impact if a local sports team is to allow or disallow players on their team. This puts society into a bind.
Society then decides to legislate that Person A’s now-daughter can play on the girls’ team, making it legally “right” for him/her to do so. Therefore, it would be “wrong” to disallow a boy that transitioned to a girl on the girls’ team. Society did this because both Person A and Person B’s relative morality conflicted and a decision had to be made. Therefore, Person A’s morality won out in the greater society.
Once society steps in and makes one morality “right” and another “wrong,” then this is no longer a relativist society. Society just made an absolute judgement on something that was supposed to be relative to the individual.
These are just two examples to show how morality cannot be relative. Without some sort of objective standard, society would delve into absolute chaos.
By now I hope you notice a trend. For a relativist society to be truly relativist, the society itself and each individual must be non-judgmental of another’s morality. Society has to remain out of deciding what is good and bad, therefore, there can be no laws in a truly relativist society.
What we’re seeing in our society today is not a tolerant relativist society as some people claim. Instead, we are seeing a society that claims tolerance but sides with the morality they think is right. They believe that aborting unborn children, legalizing gay marriage, and supporting transgenderism are good and right. Therefore, they enact laws and legislation that enable this version of morality to be acceptable and tolerated in society. They do not believe that everyone constructs their reality. If they did, then they can’t judge people in their society for being pro-life or against gay marriage and transgenderism. Instead, if one holds these views they are judged, punished, and penalized for being a misogynist, bigot, homophobe, and transphobe. The very people that hold to subjective morality impose their morality on anyone who does not agree with them.