Relativism is a school of thought in philosophy which argues that points of views are not objectively true, that is, there is no absolute truth or validity, and instead claims that they are subjective and relative to every person, having subjective value. Relativism has been a proponent of philosophy for a long time, going back to the ancient Greeks.


Relativism has a long history going back to the ancient Greeks. The sophist Protagoras claimed that ‘’ The way things appear to me, in that way they exist for me; and the way things appears to you, in that way they exist for you", as an extension he claimed that there is no such thing as falsehood.

This was especially ironic since sophists in ancient Greece were paid teachers of philosophy, hence Protagoras’ own reasoning rendered his profession meaningless.

Plato countered Protagoras’ argument, known as ‘turning the tables’, by stating that ‘’ If the way things appear to me, in that way they exist for me, and the way things appears to you, in that way they exist for you, then it appears to me that your whole doctrine is false.’’ This is in effect negates relativism.

The best argument given against Plato’s assertion was by the Nobel Prize winner Russell Bertrand; he argued that nothing could logically refer to itself, which he called ‘The Theory of Types’. However this is a logical flaw as in presenting his theory of types, he has to refer to the theory of types rendering his argument illogical.

Cultural Relativism

Due to increasing globalization and mixing of cultures, cultural relativism has become and important debate in recent decades. Cultural relativism asserts that cultural customs and morals are all equally valid and that there is no one system that is better than the other, essentially it contends that one cannot judge the morals and ethics of other cultures.

Following this logic leads to many problems, as under cultural relativism, one cannot say that a culture which practices human sacrifice is wrong. It equates the Aztecs, notorious for human sacrifice, to say, Sweden, a peaceful country that upholds basic human rights and grants equality to all.

Supporters of cultural relativism say that the two cultures are equal, which is very obviously not true as human sacrifices is a revolting act which takes many lives for no reason.

Relativism has a long history of followers stretching back to the antiquity. Although many people have made strong arguments to refute the philosophy behind it, many still continue to believe in the school of thought, even in the modern world.