Friday, May 13, 2005

Theory of Relativism

Relativism to me is a philosophy with a number of implications. For instance, there are ways at looking at things that have nothing to do with morals in a relative or absolute way. A relativist, to a food which he did not like the taste of, would say "this doesn't taste nice to me"; an absolutist would often say "this food is bad". An absolutist would see a woman and say "she is beautiful", a relativist would say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Similarly, an absolutist looking to buy a product would ask their peers what they thought of particular "brands" being good or bad, while a relativist tends not to look at the brand at all and concentrate on price/feature signals. A relativist believes the judgement of creative works such as movies/books to be completely subjective, while an absolutist does believe movies/books to be good or bad in an absolute sense. When picking who to vote for, an absolutist would tend to view parties as good or bad, while a relativist would look at the policies and predictable results thereof that would most closely meet the ends they are looking for whether they are selfish ends or selfless. In other words, I would expect Dr. Clam to preference coalition parties because they are most likely to mention abortion. However, to more thoroughly explain my argument, there is a block which will vote labor, a block which will vote coalition, the swingers I divide up into selfishists, which will tend to cancel each other out (because the parties have an equal amount of money they can convincingly promise), and thinkers, which will be looking at policies for the betterment of the country. My argument is that that gives the thinkers a lot more power than in other countries.

2 comments:

Dr. Clam said...

You still seem to be criticising a cardboard caricature of my position. Everyone is both a relativist and an absolutist-the question is, which category do you place a particular phenomenon in, and why? I certainly agree with the relativist position you quote on food, women, and novels. But surely it is nonsense to claim 'this food contains X amount of salmonella'; 'this woman has been disfigured by a landmine'; 'this novel glorifies the monarcho-fascist regime of King Alexander of Yugoslavia' are only unverifiable matters of opinion. I am saying that they are all verifiable things, and that they are all objectively *bad*. I think moral phenomena are of this nature, and you think they are not. Por que? That is the only interesting question here. :)

Marco said...

Damn, you keep making me change my hats :). With me it's the principle of the thing - these three examples are still subjective albeit relative to the standards of humanity as a whole. Many animals are resistant to salmonella, some people think disfigurements beautiful, and the author of the book probably doesn't see it that way, for instance. But if you ask me why? How the hell do I know. I don't have any particular logic other than the cardboard cut-out thing you were talking about :-)