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Relativism on Values - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 134
Values/Relativism/Kekes: Relativists regard the diversity of values as real: there are many values and there are many ways of combining and ranking them. There is no universal and objective standard that could be appealed to in resolving disagreements about the identity and comparative importance of values. A good society, however, requires some consensus about what is accepted as a possibility and what is placed beyond limits. The political arrangements of a good society reflect this consensus, and the arrangements change as the consensus does. What counts as a value and how important it is depends, then, according to relativists, on the consensus of a society. A value is what is valued in a particular context; all values, therefore, are context-dependent.
Ultimate justification: the ultimate appeal of relativists is to point at their arrangements and say: this is what we do here.
Fideism: Just as absolutism is naturally allied to a rationalistic orientation, so relativism is readily combined with fideism. If there is no discernible moral order in reality, then the best guide to good lives and to the political arrangements that foster them is the faith that has prevailed in a society. But the faith of one society is different from the faith of another. It is only to be expected therefore that good lives and political arrangements will correspondingly differ.
VsRelativism: Relativism appears to avoid the dangers of dogmatism and repression that so often engulf absolutism, but it does not. Relativism is no less prone to dogmatism and repression than absolutism. From the fact that the political arrangements of the relativist's society are not thought to be binding outside of it, nothing follows about the manner in which they are held within. Cf. >Absolutism/Kekes, >Conservatism/Kekes, >Values/Conservatism.

Kekes, John 2004. „Conservtive Theories“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004

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