The scourge of relativism has been much in the news of late. I was thinking about it today because of an online discussion elsewhere. It would seem that every right-of-center person with an opinion and a microphone awaits the day that relativism leads us down the road to perdition.
Relativism is simply the acknowledgement that different circumstances require different treatment. There is no absolute right or wrong, only murky uncertainties. Its opposite, absolutism, sees no uncertainty- regardless of circumstance, right is right and wrong is wrong.
This of course is nonsense.
Consider the two extreme hypotheticals of abortion politics- the rape victim and the woman who just doesn't feel like having a kid. An absolutist sees no difference between the two, while a relativist recognizes that there is a world of difference between the two. The circumstances are different, therefore they should not be judged by the same standard.
Absolutism has given us the likes of Eric Robert Rudolph and Fred Phelps, the Bolsheviks and al Qaeda. We really need to do away with it- absolutely.