chapter  11
13 Pages

Moral relativity and tolerance

The first point I want to make has been made by others in connection with Greek moralities – that nothing in these moralities corresponds to the modern moral “ought” as it evolved since the Middle Ages. In Greek, remarks MacIntyre, there is

originally no clear distinction between “ought” and “owe” (dein).1 The word was used to identify the duties of social roles, originally those in the household and kinship groups, and then the duties of a citizen in the city-state. The word was used, therefore, to designate duties tied to the practices of a particular social and political structure. The same was true of the Chinese “ought” (ying). The modern moral “ought” of Western Europe and America, on the contrary, is a word often used to designate duties that transcend any particular social and political structure. . . .