Relativism is the idea of some aspects of culture or experience being relative depending on other aspects. According to relativists humans can understand and examine behaviors and beliefs in the context of culture or history. Relativism differs according to level of disagreement. This concept if applied in business level in which it is considered as a truth relativism which is a principle of no absolute truth such that, truth is always relative to a certain degree of reference in business. There are different types of relativism but they have two common features that; they all declare on one thing like knowledge, moral values, meaning or taste being relative to a certain extent of culture and individual subject of conceptual framework. All these are applied in business denying any standpoint which is uniquely privileged over all others (Baghramian, 2004, p. 17)
There are different types of relativism which are differentiated according to the way they seek to relativize. There is moral relativism, cognitive relativism and ethical relativism. Cognitive relativism declares on relativity of truth. As a result of close relation between the concept of truth and knowledge, justification and rationality, cognitive relativism involves relativity of other ideas. Epistemology relativism which involves relativity of knowledge is part of cognitive relativism. In business cognitive relativism depends on nature of framework in which truth is relativized. Relativization of truth to particular subject like business results to subjectivism. If culture is the framework, it leads to cultural relativism. Cognitive relativism is popular as a sharp logical dichotomy between values and facts. All these should be applied in business for its success (Baghramian, 2004, p. 22).
Moral relativism asserts on moral values and judgments including concepts like right, good, bad and wrong. Moral relativism declares relative to specific limited framework usually that of culture and to some extent in business context. The principle is a commonplace for many societies and a virtual default standpoint encountered by many in business and real life today. Moral relativism depends on ethical standards of right or wrong based on culture. People can decide which is right and make a decision. The same case applies to business whereby people are in a position to choose which business to invest on. This relativism is accepted as the primary moral of modern business world. Many people do hold the concept of right and wrong not being absolute and is determined by each person. Moral relativism argues that anything is possible because life is ultimately without meaning (Baghramian, 2004, p. 27).
Ethical relativism is a theory that argues that morality is relative to doctrines of one’s culture. Whether an action is right or wrong it all depends on moral values of society in which it is practiced. A certain practice may be morally rights in one society and morally wrong in another. According to ethical relativism, there are no universal moral standards which are universally applied to all people at all times. If ethical relativism is correct, there is no common standpoint of resolving moral disputes or having an agreement on ethical issues among people of diversity. This relativism is commonly applied in business forming business ethics followed by people (Baghramian, 2004, p. 28).
Relativism has been associated with various myths. People believe that moral relativism lets you do anything they want. Moral relativism is not a guarantee that one should do what pleases nor does it mean that those who practice moral relativism don’t have moral values. Moral relativism gives people freedom to make choice on their set of values and priorities. People have freedom to choose which business to invest on but some government regulation does determine what business to have. Another myth is that, relativism especially moral relativism dictates people to accept any kind of behavior in name of tolerance. If people hold the belief that they find to be wrong by definition they may find or reason. This relativism doesn’t mean that individuals or society give up their right to object an action they feel is wrong. Another myth associated with relativism is that, people are naturally bad and they require absolute and objective moral code to separate right from wrong. This is not true because naturally humans have the potential to differentiate between good and bad (Baghramian, 2004, p. 35).
Ethical dilemmas and questions are natural for public relations and ensuring that media practitioners do things ethically is important to the credibility and professionalism of their position. In business like media ethical dilemmas are common forcing people to follow business ethics. Ethics in media gives practitioners knowledge and tool allowing them to make defensible decisions and highlighting significance of ethical concern in communications and public relations. Relativism influences the way media practitioners write in a practical and approachable style but it doesn’t give a clear insight on personal and professional issues affecting them. Their individual sense of morality affects ethical decision making (Baghramian, 2004, p. 38).
Media practitioners have to make ethical decisions which favor the whole society. They have to consider society morals and ethics in order to make proper and correct decisions. Relativism influences ethical decision making due to different moral reasoning capacity of people from different societies. Ethical decision making by media practitioners is useful because it affects the whole society but it is influenced by moral relativism since different people have different values and morals. Practitioners have to choose what is morally right and wrong to help them in making ethical decision but this is influenced by the myths associated with relativism (Baghramian, 2004, p. 41).
In terms of relativism our own cognitive biasness prevents people from having an objective view to something with their sense. Notational biasness applies in whatever people allegedly measure without sense. There is culture bias that cannot be avoided. Sometimes relativism is identified as a thesis that all views are equally valid. Ethically this implies that all moralities are equally good and epistemologically it means that all beliefs are equally true. All these are dismissed by critics of relativism as being incoherent for they imply that even the validity of the view that relativism is false. Relativism is an important concept in business like media in which media practitioners should follow certain business ethics to avoid ethical dilemmas.
List of References
Baghramian, M. (2004), Relativism, London: Routledge, ISBN: 0415161509