Via a reader: Jonathan Merritt-‘The Death Of Moral Relativism:’
‘Law, virtue, and a shame culture have risen to prominence in recent years, signaling that moral relativism may be going the way of the buggy whip.’
Addition: Full interview here.
“Nigel: Has relativism had its day as an influential philosophical position?
Simon: No – and I don’t think it should ever die. The danger is that it gets replaced by some kind of complacent dogmatism, which is at least equally unhealthy. The Greek sceptics thought that confronting a plurality of perspectives is the beginning of wisdom, and I think they were right. It is certainly the beginning of historiography and anthropology, and if we think, for instance, of the Copernican revolution, of self-conscious science. The trick is to benefit from an imaginative awareness of diversity, without falling into a kind of “anything goes” wishy-washy nihilism or scepticism….”
It looks like we’ve been dealing with such a problem for a long time, in one form or another.
Niall Ferguson notes something important about networks of patronage in the academy; networks increasingly colonized by people of Left-liberal persuasion and their moral lights (sometimes out-and out- Marxists): Disagreement is typically seen as personal, heretical and beyond the bounds of presumed acceptability. Should one disagree one is fair game to be mobbed as not merely wrong, nor mistaken, but as potentially ‘evil’ and a target for character attacks, shaming, and exclusion.
When you have heads of departments, faculty, and university Presidents committed to some aspect of the Left-liberal moral lights and their own careers and obligations (if not the out-and-out radicalism), don’t expect them to side with heretics.
It’s worth revisiting how Ferguson’s wife, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, using the products of Western thought, has pretty much been excluded from polite society in challenging Islamists because such challenges violate the tenets of the current replacements for religion (the Left-liberals and out- and out- Marxists in the academy):
‘Yesterday Brandeis University decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me — just a few hours before issuing a public statement — to say that such a decision had been made.’
Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale Surrenders–Yale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk. Hitchens is not a fan of religion.
Hirsi Ali seems to have found the embrace of the West out of both tribal localism and its customs, Islam, and the short-sightedness of multiculturalism. Notice non-Muslims are not the ones threatening her with death: Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily Beast…Repost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote ForTolerance And Inclusion’
On Niall Ferguson’s new Biography- ‘Kissinger: Volume I: The Idealist.1923-1968:’
Ferguson discusses the first volume in D.C.