Roger Scruton: Moral Relativism Will Be the Death Knell of Western Civilization

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Culture, Media

Lecture from the Common Sense Society in Budapest, Hungary.

Several theosophists have attributed issues with their contemporaries to moral relativism; but considered by conservatives to be one of postmodern society’s greatest threats, moral relativism may now be a relic of the past.

“Virtue, authority, and law and order are all in fashion, as the bank accounts of Chris Nolan, J.K. Rowling, and Marvel Comics will attest,” Rittelmeyer says, “There are still plenty of enemies for conservative culture warriors to fight, but relativism is no longer one of them.”

Thoughtful conservatives who are less concerned with waging culture wars have begun to admit that such a shift is occurring. In The New York Times last week, David Brooks argued that while American college campuses were “awash in moral relativism” as late as the 1980s, a “shame culture” has now taken its place. The subjective morality of yesterday has been replaced by an ethical code that, if violated, results in unmerciful moral crusades on social media.

A culture of shame cannot be a culture of total relativism. One must have some moral criteria for which to decide if someone is worth shaming.

“Some sort of moral system is coming into place,” Brooks says. “Some new criteria now exist, which people use to define correct and incorrect action.” (Jonathan Merritt, Mar,The Death of Moral Relativism)

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