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TRANSCULTURAL FRIENDSHIP: OUR POLITICAL FUTURE

Chapter Nine: Adolescence and Education

Section 8: Moral Relativism

 

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While absolutes predominate in early adolescence, a rejection of absolutes may pose problems at this later level. Open-mindedness promotes intimacy with other people and cultures. T-groups promote risk-taking by suspending the usual value judgments of society. In pop terms, the slogan is "Do your own thing". Fritz Perls articulated it thus:

 

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I am not in the world to live up to your expectations and you are not here to live up to mine, and if we meet, it's beautiful.

 

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Cultural relativism is moral relativism on a grander scale.

 

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While such relativism has the virtue of sounding accepting, it does not fit in well with the search for ideals such as a pragmatic utopia. One must be able to distinguish Nazi Germany and Amin's Uganda from less violent societies in some value-laden terms. Even the moral relativists tend to be a little absolutist about their position, showing intolerance of intolerance. One should not be indifferent to the form of our future. Moral relativism offers no principled basis for planning for tomorrow. The next chapter explores the possibility of a principled moral system that is neither absolute nor lacking in principle.

 

 

 

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