Moral Relativism...


I was in an argument with a moral relativist, he told me all ethics and morals are momentary…

So I need some resources debunking moral relativism and the complexes and structures of morals and such…


Peter Kreeft, a Catholic philosopher has written a book called A Refutation of Moral Relativism. Kreeft usually has some good things to say.



You can find an audio version of Kreeft’s Refutation of Moral Relativism at his website.

Hope this helps!


[quote=Valtiel]I was in an argument with a moral relativist, he told me all ethics and morals are momentary…


That’s a pretty definitive statement from a relativist. :slight_smile: Sounds like a selective relativist to me, but then aren’t they all.


Moral relativism defeats itself because its first principle is that no moral standard is absolute.

Thus the statement no moral standard is absolute] itself is not absolute because the lad has already said there is no such thing as an absolute principle.

In contrast, one who says there are absolute moral standards stands on firm ground because the statement there are absolute standards] is, without self-contradiction, absolute.

If the lad were clever, he would know that the claim no moral standard is absolute is not itself an empirical claim but a statement about the nature of moral claims. In this case, you gently remind him that he has brought metaphysics into the discussion.

And you remind him that since he’s talking about metaphysics, i.e. the nature of being, can he not take the next step and infer from nature that there must be an intelligent creator? We Catholics believe this same Creator has revealed something of his nature to us through Jesus Christ who really and truly intervened in history and taught us by example the nature of the moral law that is indeed written in our hearts.

And that moral law is absolute; and people who follow it achieve a profound happiness. You just don’t see those people on television or in the media because they’re not the type to seek a lot of attention. But there are millions and millions of us.


We are living subjective lives in an objective reality. The most difficult thing is to find where the subjective circumstance meets the objective reality (or moral law) in the life we live. Most will take the easy route and throw out the objective for the sake of the subjective. In a way they make the relative position the absolute… you see the circle… Remember the only reason we can argue about what the speed limit should be is because there is such thing as a mile and a hour…


[quote=Valtiel]I was in an argument with a moral relativist, he told me all ethics and morals are momentary…

Surely this “moral relativist” is an atheist. Then, he is right. As Dostoevsky writes, “If there is no God, all is permitted”. There are no morals without God.


good, now how do I adress the claims that ethic and morals are only situational…


This is a favorite topic of mine! I own some great books on this.

Can I recommend:

  1. "True for You, But Not For Me": Deflating the Slogans That Leave Christians Speechless by Paul Copan (A very accessible, easy-to-read resource. A great read.)

  2. A Refutation of Moral Relativism by Peter Kreeft (GREAT! - As recommended above. Here is the exact web address where you can hear Kreeft address the very topic you’re talking about: ) (There’s quite a bit to answer your issue, and I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t do Kreeft any justice in trying to summarize his argument.)

  3. Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air by Francis Beckwith and Greg Koukl (I confess I do not own this one, but I am quite familiar with these authors, and they are excellent. You can get a peek inside of it at Here are also a couple on-line articles by Greg Koukl that touch on your issue: and

I hope these help! There are great answers you will be able to formulate that will counter the relativist! :slight_smile:


Unfortunately it’s not as easy as all that. Moral relativism is not, after all, self-refuting.
The claim “there are no absolutes” is self-refuting because it is the equivalent of “this sentence is incorrect.” In order for each to be correct, they must be incorrect. This is a fallacy.
The claim “there are no moral absolutes,” however, is the equivalent of “the sentence before this one is incorrect.” It’s perfectly valid. You see, the claim that there are no moral absolutes is not a claim about absolutes in general. Most moral relativists readily affirm at least some absolute truth (throwing in their lot with science and mathematics and such).

Once again, it is regretable that debunking moral relativism is not as easy as self-refutation. The strongest argument against moral relativism is, in my opinion, its own inconsistencey. For instance, a moral relativist cannot say that you or I ought do anything, because that implies a moral obligation. Therefore they cannot even say that we ought subscribe to their philosophy (of relativism). There’s a list of contradictions.

I’ll second infoguy’s recommendation on the Beckwith/Koukl book, which I do own. It’s wonderfully concise. Also, get on, and find Greg Koukl’s talk on moral relativism. It’s about an hour long, and is very useful. Good luck and God bless.


[quote=Valtiel]I was in an argument with a moral relativist, he told me all ethics and morals are momentary…

So I need some resources debunking moral relativism and the complexes and structures of morals and such…

This may seem very simplistic, but in the non-erudite world I inhabit, it has worked wonders. I just tell the person to watch his/her back, because, if what he/she believes is true, from now on it’s every woman for herself. And best to carry a baseball bat in one hand and a mirror in the other, because from here on anything goes.

At least among my acquaintances, that is an unacceptable threat. Anyway, it works, and I never get accosted with that stuff twice.

If I really cared, I’d follow the “ought” argument, but that would become a discussion, and what I need at those times is a quick, penetrating rejoinder.

God bless,



While I would not rcommend this website in general (secular humanist… atheistic and clearly not catholic), there is one article there on this topic that is worth looking at. It argues against moral relativism quite effectively. Also, as it is written from the secular humanist perspective, it completely avoids any references to God or religion, only claiming there is a definitive moral standard (which we know to be God). While normally avoiding discussion of God is a failing, not an advantage, sometimes people will listen to “pure reason” but dismiss any argument that has the word religion or God in it, and this article could be useful in convincing them of the truth of objective morality.


After reading Koukl’s article, the summary of the argument came to me!

Although situations are relative, there are absolutes to every fixed situation and circumstance. Moral absolutism remains true in that, as Koukl says, there is a "moral rule that applies equally to everyone in similar moral situations." (emphasis mine)

Thanks for letting me get that out! :wink:


Thank the lord for this board and you people…


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