Moral Relativism Is Dead. What’s Next?

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Some claim that relativism is dying and needs only the status quo to end it’s messy march completely. While I’m not completely certain this is accurate, I’d at least agree that it’s control on our culture is being supplanted by other ideologies that must be addressed in their own way.

Helen Rittelmeyer, writing in the American Spectator, makes this argument and postulates that the newest, biggest ideological problem is one that, like relativism, has it’s enticements. From her description I can see how I myself have fallen prey to the idea of Utilitarianism, the idea that there must be a measurable and scientific reason behind any moral claim.

The great attraction of this new utilitarian mindset is its certainty—the fact that answers to such questions are not just a matter of opinion (and therefore, not relative)—which is why continuing to demonize the old enemy only makes the new one more appealing. Conservatives should be pleased, maybe even a little proud, that Americans are in the market for moral claims they can make with authority, but now it’s time to worry about which authorities they choose to trust. Economics can tell a country how to satisfy its desires efficiently, but not which desires are noble. Sociologists can put out a survey asking whether people are happy or fulfilled, but can’t give them the moral vocabulary they need to make sense of the difference between happiness and mere contentment, or between fulfillment and shallow self-regard. Some social-scientific studies make claims that turn out to be false, and others make claims that are correct on their own terms but not in the messy world of the human soul.

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