I am not a philosopher, nor do I teach philosophy. I have read, and I do a lot of thinking, but am not terribly conversant in the language of philosophy.
But I have been thinking more about how we process morality and make moral decisions. Greg, who actually can speak authoritatively about philosophical questions, has a great post on his Christian students and stealing music. Polling his class, he found that a good many who say they are Christian, who identify as conservative Republican, defend stealing music on pretty flimsy grounds.
For many conservatives, truth is absolute (damn those liberals) and unchanging. Murder is always wrong, as is stealing. Same, for them, when speaking of being gay, or adultery. Those sins are sins regardless of what is in your heart. Just because you told yourself it was ok to have an affair with the neighbor doesn't change that it is wrong, right?
It certainly is objectively true when dealing with other people's sins--especially sins that are not ones that challenge them. I say that with compassion, mind you, in that this seems like a human need to defend and protect your own sense of personal morality. We all want to see ourselves as moral.
But time after time, I find conservatives identifying sins as objectively wrong, period, when they are the sins of others. Being gay is wrong, in their mind, and what the gay person thinks or believes is irrelevant. Sins like greed, however, are internal and relative, and only the sinner themselves can know if they are actually greedy.
Ah, but there is the rub. As Greg notes, stealing is always wrong, yet these moral Christians justify it in certain situations. Torture, one would think, is objectively evil, yet moral Christians support (60%) its use against terrorists. One would assume that if the question were about torturing anti-abortion activists, the support would drop. So something as objective as torture becomes subjectively allowable as long as the person supporting it believes it is justifiable.
Yet Greg and myself are the ones pushing some kind of moral relativism?