Ethics

Postmodern Ethics

Postmodern Ethics – Introduction
Postmodern ethics is not based on universal or unchanging principles. Christians, Jews, and Muslims embrace ethical codes of moral absolutes based on God’s character or moral decree; Secular Humanists, Marxists, and Postmodernists ground their ethical systems in atheism, naturalism, and evolution. Despite springing from the same roots, however, Postmodern ethics differ significantly from Secular Humanist and Marxist ethics.

According to Adam Phillips, “[U]niversal moral principles must be eradicated and reverence for individual and cultural uniqueness inculcated.”1 Zygmunt Bauman continues, “I suggest that the novelty of the postmodern approach to ethics consists first and foremost in...the rejection of the typically modern ways of going about its moral problems (that is...the philosophical search for absolutes, universals and foundations in theory).”2

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Moral Relativism

Moral Relativism – What is it?
Moral relativism is the view that moral or ethical statements, which vary from person to person, are all equally valid and no one’s opinion of “right and wrong” is really better than any other. Moral relativism is a broader, more personally applied form of other types of relativistic thinking, such as cultural relativism. These are all based on the idea that there is no ultimate standard of good or evil, so every judgment about right and wrong is purely a product of a person’s preferences and environment. There is no ultimate standard of morality, according to moral relativism, and no statement or position can be considered absolutely “right or wrong,” “best or worst.”

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Ethics and Postmodernism

By David Noebel

Introduction

Postmodern ethics is not based on universal or unchanging principles. Christians, Jews, and Muslims embrace ethical codes of moral absolutes based on God's character or moral decree; Secular Humanists, Marxists, and Postmodernists ground their ethical systems in atheism, naturalism, and evolution. Despite springing from the same roots, however, Postmodern ethics differ significantly from Secular Humanist and Marxist ethics. According to Adam Phillips, "[U]niversal moral principles must be eradicated and reverence for individual and cultural uniqueness inculcated."1 Zygmunt Bauman continues, "I suggest that the novelty of the postmodern approach to ethics consists first and foremost in . . . the rejection of the typically modern ways of going about its moral problems (that is . . . the philosophical search for absolutes, universals and foundations in theory)."2

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Postmodern Ethics

By Louis Hoffman

One of the most commonly voiced critiques of postmodernism is that it promotes relativism. From this perspective, it is maintained that there is no way to say that anything is wrong or immoral thus promoting an extreme moral relativism. The example offered as the condemning criticism illustrating this point is that postmodernism is unable to state the murder, rape, or child abuse is immoral.  

Hopefully, by this time, you, the reader, are able to recognize that these arguments are not an accurate or valid criticism of postmodernism. There are few, if any, postmodernists who would maintain that murder, rape, and child abuse are morally acceptable. What differs is how they go about condemning these behaviors.

Ethics and Postmodernism

At minimum, there are three important postmodern alternatives to that of extreme relativism. First, and most simply, is a utilitarian argument based upon the Golden Rule. This approach would suggest that there is need for a social contract for society to exist. As such, because people desire to live free of murder, rape, child abuse, and other crimes, they agree to not engage in these behaviors. Although this perspective does not state that these are morally wrong, it does provide a way to provide a way to limit these from occurring.

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