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|Interview 1||The Importance of Moral Relativism: Will It Really "Damn Our Souls and End Our Species"?||15|
|Interview 2||What Is Moral Relativism?||27|
|Interview 3||The History of Relativism||35|
|Interview 4||The Data||53|
|Interview 5||The Arguments for Relativism from Self-Esteem and from Cultural Relativity||64|
|Interview 6||The Arguments for Relativism from Social Conditioning, Freedom, and Tolerance||87|
|Interview 7||The Arguments for Relativism from Situations, Intentions, Projection, and Evolution||101|
|Interview 8||The Roots of Relativism: Reductionism||123|
|Interview 9||The Arguments for Moral Absolutism||135|
|Interview 12||The Philosophical Assumptions of Absolutism||150|
|Interview 11||The Cause and Cure of Relativism||164|
Posted April 29, 2011
Peter John Kreeft is a professor of philosophy at Boston College, a prolific writer and an engaging educator and public speaker. My first exposure to his writings came through his book A Shorter Summa: The Essential Philosophical Passages of Saint Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, which was first systematic introduction to the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Kreeft is definitely strongly influenced by Thomistic thought, and this "Refutation" reflects some of that, as the dedication too strongly implies.
The book is structured as a series of dialogues between Libby Rawls, a prototypical modern liberal relativist, and `Isa Ben Adam, a stand-in for a philosophically well versed moral absolutist. Both of them are figments of Kreeft's imagination, and maybe even parts of his own divided personality. The dialogues are deliberately fashioned after Socratic dialogues, and they serve as a vehicle through which Kreeft crafts his arguments in favor of moral absolutism.
I have had a chance to listen Kreeft give a lecture on this very topic, and based on that it would make sense to write the arguments in a form of dialogues. Kreeft is a very good public speaker and great at interacting with audience and thinking on his feet about even the most arcane topic. This is clearly reflected in the book as well, as some of potential intellectual minefields are avoided with masterful grace. Furthermore, it is quite unusual nowadays to come across a book written in a form of dialogue. The academic writing tends to be very technical and impersonal, and that sometimes detracts from otherwise a very interesting topic. However, reading a page after page of interpersonal argumentation can get overbearing after a while, especially if the give-and-take can be rather confrontational on an occasion. However, this is easily compensated by lucidity of the prose and cogency of arguments. If you have ever had to argue with a moral relativist, this would be an ideal book that can be used to refute most of their arguments. It is an exercise in absolutist apologetics.
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Posted December 6, 2011
This book is a bit different from others in that it is a transcription of taped interviews between a moral absolutist ("Isa," an Arab college professor) and a relativist ("Libby," a feminist journalist). The debate/dialogue becomes heated at times, but sheds much light on both world-views. The book exposes the beliefs and assumptions underlying moral relativism and the ramifications.Admittedly, the text can become a little difficult at times due to the "jargon of philosophy," yet the book as a whole is quite readable, enjoyable, and informative.
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