Verneinung von absoluten Normen führt zu Nihilismus

Paul Boghossian, Philosophieprofessor aus New York, sagt in seinem Aufsatz “The Maze of Moral Relativism” in der NYT, dass die Verneinung von absoluten moralischen Normen zu Nihilismus führt:

Most moral relativists say that moral right and wrong are to be relativized to a community’s “moral code.” According to some such codes, eating beef is permissible; according to others, it is an abomination and must never be allowed.  The relativist proposal is that we must never talk simply about what’s right or wrong, but only about what’s “right or wrong relative to a particular moral code.”

The trouble is that while “Eating beef is wrong” is clearly a normative statement, “Eating beef is wrong relative to the moral code of the Hindus” is just a descriptive remark that carries no normative import whatsoever.  It’s just a way of characterizing what is claimed by a particular moral code, that of the Hindus.  We can see this from the fact that anyone, regardless of their views about eating beef, can agree that eating beef is wrong relative to the moral code of the Hindus.

So, it looks as though the moral case is more like the witch case than the simultaneity case:  there are no relativistic cousins of “right” and “wrong.”  Denial of moral absolutism leads not to relativism, but to nihilism.

Am Beispiel der Tischsitten zeigt er, dass gerade der Beachtung der kulturellen Unterschiede die absolute Norm zu Grund liegt, diese Unterschiede zu achten.

The reason is that our relativism about etiquette does not actually dispense with all absolute moral facts.  Rather, we are relativists about etiquette in the sense that, with respect to a restricted range of issues (such as table manners and greetings), we take the correct absolute norm to be “we ought not, other things being equal, offend our hosts.”

This norm is absolute and applies to everyone and at all times.  Its relativistic flavor comes from the fact that, with respect to that limited range of behaviors (table manners and greetings, but not, say, the abuse of children for fun), it advocates varying one’s behavior with local convention.