Moral Relativism vs Moral Descriptivism

I don't call myself a moral relativist, but a moral descriptivist.

I like the term moral relativist, but that word carries connotations with ideas that I have no joy being related with. For instance, moral relativist has grown to mean the opposite of empiricism and logic, an extreme tool and ideology of the radical left.

I don't associate with either left or right, and to call myself a moral relativist would unfairly associate me with tendencies of the left.

I want to discuss what I like about the term moral relativist. I want to discuss what I would like the term to mean.

In a perfect world, a moral relativist is simply somebody who doesn't believe that objective morality exists. There isn't anything humanity as a whole should do, and humanity has no obligations to choose one line of reasoning over another.

In a perfect world, moral relativism is acceptance that there is no such thing as good, or evil. Although human nature may have an ingrained tendency to dislike murder, cheating, and theft, the universe makes no judgements whether said behavior is good or evil. A moral relativist is unblinkingly neutral, with a historian's eye, who looks at the Nazis not in terms of humanitarian monstrosity, but as a successful, then unsuccessful, political entity and culture.

Now, here are some things I dislike about the term moral relativist.

Now the term moral relativism implies a "scientific relativism" too. Today, somehow, moral relativism suggests ignoring scientific and empirical facts.

Somehow moral relativism has come to imply a support for radical gender theories, and marxist ideology.

Most importantly, moral relativism suggests that one is a terrible person, who is depressed, non-feeling person that has given up on the human race.

Because of all these reasons, I'll call myself something else, rather than a moral relativist. I'll call myself a moral descriptivist.

A moral descriptivist never worries about what is morally right: only about what individuals and societies think is morally right. Only the latter affects history and human behavior.

A moral descriptivist doesn't worry about changing their society's morals for the better: only about what has been the societal views on morality in the past and present, and based on this knowledge, predictions about views on morality in the future.

A moral descriptivist doesn't worry about how to label human behavior as good and evil: all human behavior is just that, human behavior, with no bias towards wonky concepts like good and evil. Much more important are the causes and motivations for human behavior, than overclassifying human behavior.

A moral descriptivist thrives off of knowledge of psychology, history, and human tendencies. A moral descriptivist understands how contrasting views on morality create different diverse cultures, as well as conflicts between these cultures. This knowledge is far more interesting to a moral descriptivist than pondering "ethics" or "moral dilemmas".

There's too much conflict in 2020 over what is "right" and what is "wrong". Statues are being brought down. Free speech is being threatened.

As a moral descriptivist, I watch as this unfolds, not taking sides or participating, but simply learning, and understanding.

You'll only receive email when Bjorn Pagen publishes a new post

More from Bjorn Pagen