Ethical relativism and absolutism

Ethical relativism: "Relativism is the position that all points of view are equally valid and the individual determines what is true and relative for them." (

  • In other words, there is no point of view which is viewed upon more favorably than others, therefore all perspectives have their own truth in them.
The picture above plays around with the term of ethical relativism and how it portrays the different perspectives.


  • Depending on the culture of a certain area, abortion is illegal. For example, in Brazil there is a heavy influence of the catholic religion so it is not legal there. However, in other countries such as in Germany, abortion is legal. Thus, when viewing this in the eyes of ethical relativism, abortion is not solely considered right or wrong as the context around it is taken into consideration along with the culture.

Ethical absolutism: "Ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act."(

  • Ethical absolutism therefore represents a non flexible ethical belief; therefore, if one has done something right or wrong, regardless of the context, it will be considered right or wrong thus having no outside influence on the action itself.
VIdeo explaining the difference between ethical relativism and absolutism


  • Some governments around the world are in favor of the death penalty because, through killing those criminals, more people will be saved. Yet, according to ethical absolutism, that is morally wrong since it is still the murder of a person.

Both types of ethics connects to the hot and cold theory in which one assumes that they will act a certain way when finding themselves in a situation versus how they truly act in that situation. In other words, the context of an action does have a huge influence on the person's decisions.

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