- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Pluralism, not Relativism

Posted by: Joel Jacobson ( none, USA ) on March 29, 1999 at 16:13:22:

Back aways, Deathy, you said somwhere that since we both thought everything was relative then what am I quibbling about. I responded that with such a weighty issue I'd need time to contemplate my answer.

First, there truly is no such thing as relativism. I fully admit taht I have a personal conception of what is moral and valuable. You do the same whether or not you choose to admit it. Moreover, I definitely do feel taht my vlaue system is superior to others in its ability to give meaning to life, mine and others.

My value-relativism, actually value-pluralism, is not an admission that all values are relative, but simply that we, everyone, possess no objective standard upon which to evaluate opinions held by different people. Make no mistake, I do find different value systems superior to others, and this is just my opinion, opinion upon other opinions. You engage in the same method whether you choose to admit it or not. Witnes, a person truly believing all value systems relative would save time by giving up any attempt to form their opinions on something and simply roll dice to randomly determine what they should value. As no one does this, I can only assume no one is a value-relativeist. Thinking that all values are realtive leads to the asseration taht all thaoughts are random. And, following this line, all actions are random.

No, I do choose to tolerate those I disagree with, but, without question, I do not find everything relative. I simply admit taht I possess no standard of judgement except my opinion (you have the same whether or not you admit it). I am a value-pluralist and not a value-relativist.

Interesting though, value-relativism, in its Hegelian roots, leads us straight to moral positivism and value-imperialism. If, indeed, everything is relative then we can act within any value system we choose for ourselves and still consider ourselves acting according to "the good"; thus, the end justifies the means and, indeed, right is might. Quickly, we begin to think that, since relativism means all actions are random, a person of immense intellect and foresight could impose some rationality upon the social actions of the human race. Your "socialism", for instance, regardless of your contrary claims is one such contstruct. But, regardless of anyone's claims, any such construct would simply be an extension of the value systems of the people advocating it. By imposing such systems a person is claiming that their particular values are factually superior to other's values. This is your value-imperialism as sprung from your relativist roots. In reality, relativism is a tool used by people who don't want to apply rational (i.e. social) thought to discuss new ways of improving life in a piecemeal fashion.

Incidentally, if everything is truly relative how can we ever label Hitler or Stalin as "immoral"?

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