Non-Ethnocentric Absolute Rights

By: Angelica Kontoroff Moral relativism holds that no ethical or moral absolutes exist.  According to this philosophy, moral or ethical propositions reflect relative social, cultural, historical, or personal circumstances.  Moral relativists argue that this philosophy explains away discrepancies between cultures without being ethnocentric.  In other words, because, there are no ethical or moral absolutes, I cannot say that my ethical or moral belief is right and yours is wrong. For example, moral relativists would interpret the practice by some cultures in Alaska to place elderly on ice barges to die as being a moral practice relative to these cultures.  Similarly, they would interpret the practice of female genital mutilation (“FGM”) by African cultures as a moral practice relative to these cultures. Moral relativism encounters problems when confronted with the issue of human rights.  We would like to believe that there are such things as human rights that cannot be violated.