Moraltheories play the crucial role of explaining in detail what isconsidered right and what is wrong. Since historical times, diverseviews concerning morality have come up, and each and every individualtends to adopt particular views that define their lives. Evaluationor assessment of one’s moral perceptions and values facilitate thereflection of the ethical compass hence developing an understandingof how issues, decisions, and challenges can be handled. It alsoenables one to understand the views and moral beliefs of otherpeople. As such, moral relativism and contextualism are almostsimilar entities that require an in-depth analysis to highlight theirdifferences in application.
Moralrelativism is a popular value founded on the view that moraljudgments can either be true or false with respect to a particularstandpoint, for example, a culture or historical era. It goes on toassert that there is no single viewpoint that is uniquelyadvantageous over the others. Moral relativism is closely related toother claims such as the hypothesis that various cultures tend toshow diverse moral values. A good example is the denial of theexistence of universal moral values that are present across all thecultures of the world. Another example is the determination toabstain from passing moral judgment on other individuals’ beliefsand practices based on one’s own convictions concerning morality.Also known as ethical relativism, moral relativism goes on to explainthat ethical propositions do not exhibit objective or moral truths.On the contrary, it makes claims that are relative to the prevailingsocial, cultural, historical and also personal conditions orenvironments. Simply put, moral relativism does not deny thejustification of morality, but instead, it affirms their relativeforms. A good description of this moral values is the statement thatgoes “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” As such, the culture orbeliefs of a certain community may make a particular action deemedmoral, provided it fits within their best practices of values. Forthis reason, relativistic positions appear to be confined to culturaland individual boundaries [ CITATION Emr14 l 2057 ].
Onthe other hand, moral contextualism refers to a collection of variousviews that emphasize the importance of incorporating context in anyaction, speech, and expression. The main argument brought forward isthat in some ways, an action utterance or expression can be bestunderstood with relativity to the context at hand. The main pointhere is that contextualism emphasizes on truth and being right ashaving relative meaning with regard to the context. Its definitionhas led some philosophers to purport that contextualism leans towardsrelativism. However, contextualism views are more closely related tosituational ethics. On methodological grounds, moral contextualismcan be applied similarly to relativism albeit without therelativisation of sentence truth. A good example, in this case, isNeurophilosophy which tends to use contextualization. Instead ofapproaching certain metaphysical and epistemological challengesconcerning the brain, mind, and soul using a neuroscienceperspective, a non-reductive Neurophilosophy is applied hence leadingto a brain-based strategy. In other words, arguments revolving aroundthe perception of consciousness can be compared with empirical dataand therefore, the context of knowledge is applied [ CITATION Eve14 l 2057 ].
Thedifferences between moral relativism and contextualism may not bevery distinct, but most people tend to view the two as similarentities. However, the bottom line is that moral relativism unlikemoral contextualism has the capability to endorse a typical disquoteprinciple concerning the truth. As such moral relativism supports thedisquotation of truth with abandon while contextualism does not andinstead tries to look at the situation first.
Evers, D. (2014). Moral Contextualism and the Problem of Triviality. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 285–297.
Westacott, E. (2014). Moral Relativism. Retrieved from Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/moral-re/#H2