Differentiate between Moral Absolutism, Moral Relativism and Moral Nihilism.

Moral Absolutism-
Moral absolutism is the philosophy which says that there exists an absolute definition for moral conduct and the definition does not change with circumstances.
Thus actions are inherently moral or immoral, regardless of the beliefs and goals of the individual, society or culture that engages in the actions. It holds that morals are inherent in the laws of the universe, the nature of humanity, the will of God or some other fundamental source.
Moral Absolutism can promote more extreme position that actions are moral or immoral even regardless of the circumstances in which they occur (e.g. lying is always be immoral, even if done to promote some other good, such as to save a life). Many religions have morally absolutist positions, and regard their system of morality as having been set by a deity, and therefore absolute, perfect and unchangeable.
Moral Relativism says that nothing is intrinsically right or wrong and it depends upon a particular issue or situation to decide the morality of an act. Moral relativism is of the view that moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint. Moral Relativism is a position that moral propositions do not reflect objective and/or universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. 
Moral relativism is on the opposite end of the continuum from moral absolutism, which says that there is always one right answer to any ethical question. Indeed, those who adhere to moral relativism would say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Moral Nihilism– Moral Nihilism is a philosophy which believes that there is nothing inherently right and wrong in ethics. Moral nihilist believes that all ethical standards have been constructed by the society. For example, according to a moral nihilist person, killing someone for whatever reason may not be inherently right or wrong. Capital punishment is prohibited in many countries on ethical grounds, while many other countries are in favour of it.
Moral nihilism is distinct from moral relativism, which allows for actions wrong relative to a particular culture or individual. Moral nihilists do not deny that people can “claim” to have moral absolutes, but they would deny that moral absolutes exist. Rather they propound that people have descriptive morals that reflect cause-and-effect.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Differentiate between Moral Absolutism, Moral Relativism and Moral Nihilism. {150 words, 10 Marks}

Published: April 20, 2018 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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