Against Relativism

Don't kill relativism - draw its teeth.

Every philosopher knows of the “freshman relativist”, quick to assert, dogmatically even, that it all depends how you look at it; if they think that then it must be true for them; when in Rome…; and at the end of the line, just “wha’ever”. You do not have to own a signed photograph of Michael Gove to loathe and fear this cynical or sceptical character.

Yet for a long time the “postmodernist” climate nurtured the relativist frame of mind. Hidden dark forces mould and skew our beliefs and even our perceptions, let alone our values and tastes. We are each the creation of a particular history and culture, class and gender. There is no reason to expect uniformity, or convergence towards it. Multiplicity and diversity rule, and a good thing too. We should no longer entertain imperial ambitions, blithely supposing that just one ethic, or ideology, or way of life is the right one for everybody, and still less that we have the right to impose it on everybody.


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