Absolutism vs Relativism: Difference and Comparison

Our perception and perspective differentiate our ideology and moral aspects. When discussing morals, philosophy comes into play.

Philosophers are aware of human interaction, as well as their likely behavior, senses, and surroundings. The broad subject encompasses several major areas, one of which is ethics.

Furthermore, to determine how to judge how good or bad people are or what they do, we must distinguish between absolutism and relativism.

Key Takeaways

  1. Absolutism asserts that moral principles, values, and truths are universal and unchanging, while relativism contends that they depend on individual or cultural perspectives.
  2. Absolutists believe in objective ethical standards that apply to all people regardless of culture or context, while relativists argue that moral judgments vary among societies and individuals.
  3. Absolutism promotes consistency in moral judgments and adherence to established norms, whereas relativism fosters tolerance and appreciation for diverse viewpoints and cultural practices.

Absolutism vs Relativism

The difference between absolutism and relativism is that absolutism is moral facts whereas relativism is rather relative moral beliefs. Absolutism encompasses facts and a realistic approach that holds on any occasion. But in the case of relativism opinions are subjective, it holds in your perspective or a certain group of people.

Absolutism vs Relativism

Absolutism is concerned with moral values that are indispensable in any circumstance. The ideology of absolutism is to be true in moral ethics regardless of place, time, or person.

It includes events or practices that are true no matter what the circumstances are. They are objective. Plato, an Athenian philosopher, believed that there must be a distinct ideology that can be used to determine what and which things or activities are good or bad.

It must be a constant, not a gradual change.

Relativism, on the other hand, is concerned with subjective concepts. Relativism is the belief that every situation has a perspective.

It’s as if each person has a unique reality or point of view. The situation is judged based on that situation or perception of the world.

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According to Aristotle’s relativism ideas, there is more to a situation than the apparent truth.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonAbsolutism Relativism 
Ideology Absolute Relative 
Is it objective?Yes No 
Is it subjective? No Yes 
Is it more associated with religion?Yes No 
Is there any classification?It has no further classifications It is further classified into four major groups

What is Absolutism?

Absolutism is concerned with norms and beliefs that are unaffected by time, place, or person. The concept of absolutism is absolute; it holds in all circumstances.

The moral values discussed in absolutism are constant in all parts of the world. They would not budge in any way.

This is even more understandable with a few examples. For example, telling the truth in any situation is true in any situation.

While acting, your moral intention comes into play. Absolutism has deep religious roots; the beliefs and practices of a particular religion apply in any situation, at any time or place.

And this is one of absolutism’s major advantages: it critically evaluates the essence of living, faith, and interpersonal relationships. It is interesting and captivating due to its unique way of defining action with existing logic.

We frequently fall into conflict when judging what is good or bad; we frequently ask through our moral values, and this intrinsic ideal approach of absolutism generates a sense of clarity among people and groups.

Overall absolutism refers to facts that have been passed down through the ages and generations and are revered and followed as the ultimate truth.

Absolutism is thus objective. Further, you can look into the concept of relativism for a better clarification.

What is Relativism?

Relativism, on the other hand, is more akin to a personal viewpoint. Relativism’s ideology is that different people have different points of view.

Each person’s reality is unique. With that said, it implies that you believe what is true in your reality.

Your perception of reality is your reality. You see what you believe to be true.

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And what you believe is your truth. As a result, we have a distinct point of view in any situation.

Relativism tends to measure and support an individual’s point of view.

For example, the apparent truth that is being witnessed is not the end of an event. There are underlying motives and points of view.

If you are judging art or music, your tastes may differ from those of another person. And there is no single explanation or fact that can justify your preference because it is entirely your reality.

As a result, relativism is always relative and subjective. So it depends on the situation, and the judgment is rather biased as a result. 

Relativism is further subdivided into four major categories. There are four types of relativism: moral relativism, truth relativism, descriptive relativism, and normative relativism.

Your relativism ideology can be broadly classified based on the four major sectors.

Main Differences Between Absolutism and Relativism 

  1. Absolutism is absolute, whereas relativism is relative.
  2. Absolutism is more religiously inclined, whereas relativism is not.
  3. Absolutism holds regardless of time, place, or person, whereas relativism is more akin to personal preferences.
  4. Absolutism is independent of circumstances, whereas relativism is affected by them.
  5. Absolutism, unlike relativism, cannot be classified further.
  1. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/american-political-science-review/article/absolutism-and-relativism-in-philosophy-and-politics/2C570709175B2044935D84D5C84C2FBB
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27902865

Last Updated : 07 July, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Absolutism vs Relativism: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Thank you for delving into this philosophical topic. The comparison table and the references add depth to the narrative. A wonderful read.

  2. This insightful piece with references is a gem. It offers a deep dive into the core attributes that distinguish absolutism from relativism. It’s thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating.

  3. The article is undeniably informative and offers a well-structured analysis of the tenets of absolutism and relativism. It’s intellectually enriching.

  4. The argument presented for absolutism and relativism is convincing. It provides great clarity and distinction between the two. Quite enlightening.

  5. The article provides a comprehensive overview of the differences between absolutism and relativism in a truly objective manner. The perspectives are clear and unbiased.

  6. An intellectually stimulating piece that engages with a complex subject matter in a skilled manner. The breakdown of the core differences is impressive.

    • The article masterfully captures the essence of this philosophical debate, offering a comprehensive understanding of the principles. A compelling read.


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