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A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist Paperback – October 1, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly
The only boring aspect of this book is its title, which doesn't do justice to apologist Kreeft's intelligent, engaging dialogue between two fictional friends during a week of relaxation at Martha's Vineyard. Kreeft, philosophy professor at Boston College and author of more than 25 books, describes the absolutist character 'Isa as a Muslim fundamentalist from Palestine who teaches philosophy at the American University in Beirut. His interviewer and sparring partner is Libby Rawls, an African-American, liberal feminist journalist. Using a classic debate format, with impressive fairness to the opposite side, Kreeft defines relativism and its importance. Tracing relativism's evolution and history in Western philosophy, Kreeft notes that relativism is a fairly modern perspective, originating within the last few hundred years. He outlines the philosophical distinctions between it and absolutism with clarity and an integrity that will delight both the layperson and the professional philosopher. For Kreeft, relativism has eroded a collective and individual sense of accountability and contributed to social decay, yet he can see the other side, especially with regard to cross-cultural differences. Although the purpose of the book is to uphold absolutism, Kreeft outlines the relativist perspective in an approachable, respectful manner. By giving counterarguments a fighting chance, this becomes a book that may actually persuade peopleAnot just preach to the absolutist choir. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Philosophy professor Kreeft's conceit is that he recently invited two former students (both fictional) to discuss moral philosophy and that this is the record of their conversations. One of the two, a black feminist journalist and moral relativist, interviewed the other, a Palestinian Arab professor and moral absolutist. The sparks start flying in the first session, when the professor characterizes Auschwitz as "the fruit of moral relativism" and quotes Mussolini's explanation of fascism as quintessentially relativistic. The succeeding discussion treats the definition and the history of moral relativism (it began with the serpent's temptation of Eve, it seems), whether data support relativism or absolutism, the arguments for relativism, the roots of relativism in reductionism, arguments for moral absolutism, absolutism's philosophical assumptions (e.g., that truth can be known), and, finally, "The Cause and Cure of Relativism" (sexual mores are key to both). As the title suggests, relativism doesn't stand a chance here. Boredom is a goner, too, as, employing the oldest literary method of enlivening philosophy--casting it, ... ala Plato, as a dialogue, a bare-bones play--Kreeft deftly creates recognizable characters as he advances a debate as important to the future of religion as to that of society. Ray Olson
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Top Customer Reviews
Professor Kreeft introduces the reader to the structure of moral argument, which requires that there be a major premise comprised of a universal, objective or unchanging moral principle, a minor premise comprised of a factual situation, and a conclusion which is arrived at by applying the moral principle to the factual situation. One must begin with a moral premise in order to arrive at a moral conclusion. This structure is essential for all moral argument.
Professor Kreeft maintains that one is capable of knowing objective and universal truths, which apply to all cultures, nations, times and places. While it is true that a particular culture's mores may differ, the underlying morality that applies to all cultures is always objective, universal and the same. He emphasizes that one must always obey one's conscience, that the rule to be true to one's own conscience is unchanging, and that the absolute authority of one's own conscience comes from God.
For anyone interested in debating the morality of such issues as abortion, slavery, divorce, and the sexual revolution, I would highly recommend this riveting, fast paced drama by Professor Kreeft. Through his characters, Isa and Libby, Kreeft convincingly refutes moral relativism and does so in an entertaining fashion.
If you want to understand how modern man thinks and why he is so wrong in his thought-process, then this book is perfect.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
OK so it's basically the interview of a super religious guy, extremely arrogant and obnoxious, who is going to...Read more