Today's post is on orthodoxy, divine command theory, and relativism.
Quick review: orthodoxy treats tradition or ancient texts as unquestionable; divine command theory posits that the creator of the universe is the only source of morality; relativism posits that there's no objective source of morality.
What do these three have in common?
They believe humans are incapable of using reason to reach meaningful conclusions regarding complex moral matters. Instead, we must rely on some outside source (orthodoxy and divine command theory) or have no common moral code because no such source exists (relativism). [I'll also lump in any view that relies on some sort of mystical subconscious to reach reach these conclusion. This source is nominally internal but such theories still deny our ability to consciously work out conclusions.]
All three of these philisophies stand in opposition to moral progress in human societies. All stand in opposition to human freedom as. Either they deny the virtue of freedom or they deny the freedom of thought.
This morality stuff is hard. There won't always be clear answers. We don't have complete information and sometimes a problem may be unsolvable. However, we can work at it and we ultimately must work at it. We've got a range of tools at our disposal: intellect, reason, the texts and methods of greats, but also emotion, instinct, and even faith can contribute. We'll doubtless reach some wrong conclusions, but that's what a willingness to debate and reconsider are for.
When forces of orthodoxy and relativism wage cultural wars I say a pox on both their houses. The future belongs to those with the ability to question all decisions, defend their choice, and when the time comes to fight for the principles they decide on. Any hope for human unity or the world singing in perfect harmony is a dangerous illusion. What we can have instead is freedom, and that's a good thing.