A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist by Peter Kreeft, as the subtitle indicates, is written in his usual Socratic dialogue on the topic.
Although the author admits he doesn’t know whether to classify the text as an interview, conversation or debate, it is nonetheless a Socratic dialogue with elements of all three.
Excluding the introduction and afterword, the text is organized into 11 chapters or “interviews”.
To some, the topic is just “philosophy crap” and whilst its importance may be too subtle for some, it is undeniably relevant to how we conduct ourselves and our existence.
Moral relativism is not merely admitting there are relative aspects of morality, but that everything is relative. This modern view is dangerous because it follows that anything goes.
Interviews 1 to 3 look at what moral relativism is and its history.
Interview 4 examines the “data”—that is, personal behavior and experience—that supports moral absolutism.
Interviews 5 to 8 examine the arguments for moral relativism. These include the argument from social conditioning, situations, intentions and projection, amongst others.
Interviews 9 to 11 examine moral absolutism, the arguments for it and why it is ultimately correct. It should be noted that moral absolutism is not that there are only absolutes, it is that there is at least one absolute to refer to.
Like most of his other words, Kreeft’s Socratic dialogue is easily accessible, even to a younger audience. He avoids getting too technical although he doesn’t shun it either as it is sometimes necessary. If anything, given the nature of the topic, he can be more technical at times. Also, for the same reason, it is not as fun as some of his other texts, not to state that it is boring or dry. It is a good, useful book relevant to these times.
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