chapter  9
3 Pages

The argument from relativity

The argument from relativity has as its premise the well-known variation in moral

codes from one society to another and from one period to another, and also the

differences in moral beliefs between different groups and classes within a complex

community. Such variation is in itself merely a truth of descriptive morality, a fact

Yet it may indirectly support second-order subjectivism: radical differences

between first-order moral judgements make it difficult to treat those judgements as

apprehensions of objective truths. But it is not the mere occurrence of disagreements

that tells against the objectivity of values. Disagreement on questions in history or

biology or cosmology does not show that there are no objective issues in these fields

for investigators to disagree about. But such scientific disagreement results from

speculative inferences or explanatory hypotheses based on inadequate evidence,

and it is hardly plausible to interpret moral disagreement in the same way.