Many people in other times and places thought slavery, for example, acceptable, even good; while most today view it as a great evil. Many writers and thinkers have held that one can justify any number of evils based on subjective or cultural preferences, and that morality requires some universal standard against which to measure ethical judgments. A moral relativist might respond that this criticism is only valid if one already accepts that such acts are indeed fundamentally evil - a position which the moral relativist would deny - and that the objection is therefore nothing other than an uncritical statement that morals are in fact absolute.
However, if it is their society that has, for instance, rejected slavery, they presumably agree that it is wrong, if their position is one of social or cultural moral relativism. This presents a meta-ethical problem in explaining what happens when a society has a collective change of heart. Consider the case of someone who has minority moral views within their society, and yet is vindicated (even relativistically) by future developments. If "right" and "wrong" literally mean "what my society accepts/rejects" then a social moral relativist in a slave-owning society of the past who says "slavery is wrong" is effectively saying "slavery is not approved of by my society", which is false — factually false. Yet, the relativist of the present is committed to agreeing with the relativist of the past, since they both oppose slavery.
The argument was phrased in terms of cultural relativism, but a similar argument applies to subjectivism. It is difficult for a moral subjectivist to claim that they have undergone any personal moral improvement, or that an attitude they used hold was wrong, when it was obviously what they felt was right at the time. For them, there is no external standard to judge against, so while their attitudes change, they cannot be said to improve or decline. It therefore seems that there is a difference in what can be expressed or justified between an objectivist and a relativist, although whether it involves the loss of anything worthwhile is open to debate.
There are also difficulties in putting a boundary upon "society" or "culture" - what people feel to be their social or cultural groupings may well not align with legal and national groupings. The person holding "minority moral views within their society" may consider their "culture" more aligned with that minority than with the larger state or national society which determines what is lawfully acceptable,. This can be seen, for instance, where religious communities within a nation or state hold views on the morality of issues such as abortion or homosexuality which differ from the current legal position on those issues. This flexibility could lead to the objection that cultural moral relativism is "anything goes", since one could find — or found — a society that condones whatever one wishes to do.
The equivalent of such gerrymandering in subjective or personal moral relativism would be for an individual to adopt different principles at different times, which would lead to a very acute form of "anything goes", unless forestalled by a meta-ethical principles that individuals need to be self-consistent. It could be argued that jumping ship in this way is dishonest, but the ethical acceptability of honesty is presumably as relative as anything else if relativism is true.
现代元伦理学有各种不同的流派。包括以乔治·爱德华·摩尔、哈罗德·亚瑟·普里查德（Harold Arthur Prichard）、W·D·罗斯（W. D. Ross）等为代表的直觉主义；以伯特兰·罗素、路德维希·维特根斯坦、维也纳学派等为代表的情感主义；还有以斯蒂芬·图尔敏（Stephen Toulmin）、R·M·黑尔（R. M. Hare）等为代表的规定主义。
Some philosophers, for example R. M. Hare (1919 – 2002), argue that moral propositions remain subject to logical rules, notwithstanding the absence of any factual content, including those subject to cultural or religious standards or norms. Thus, for example, they contend that one cannot hold contradictory ethical judgments. This allows for moral discourse with shared standards, notwithstanding the descriptive properties or truth conditions of moral terms. They do not affirm or deny that moral facts exist, only that logic applies to our moral assertions; consequently, they postulate an objective and preferred standard of moral justification, albeit in a very limited sense. Nevertheless, according to Hare, logic shows the error of relativism in one very important sense (see Hare's Sorting out Ethics). Hare and other philosophers also point out that, aside from logical constraints, all systems treat certain moral terms alike in an evaluative sense. This parallels our treatment of other terms such as less or more, which meet with universal understanding and do not depend upon independent standards (for example, one can convert measurements). It applies to good and bad when used in their non-moral sense, too; for example, when we say, "this is a good wrench" or "this is a bad wheel". This evaluative property of certain terms also allows people of different beliefs to have meaningful discussions on moral questions, even though they may disagree about certain "facts".
弗里德里希·尼采认为道德是二元论概念带给人们、又由教会继续维持的一个错误思想。他一生的任务，就是重新评估所有价值，把人类思想从这些错误拯救出来。他预想未来个体将自然地行动，充分利用他们的天赋潜力或权利欲（der Wille zur Macht）。他相信人类只有通过开始自然地、本能地、根据每个个人的愿望和动力行动，才会前进，实现这潜力。Übermensch将呈现强壮、有力、自然和快乐的结果。快乐（“力量增长、阻力被克服的感觉”）将自然出现。尼采希望通过人类动力“再自然化”来准备人类成长的土壤。他相信，一旦人们摆脱道德（以及协会、宗教），下一代人将会不受污染地、自由地、强壮地成长。（见《善恶的彼岸》、《偶像的黄昏》、《敌基督》等）。
- Joyce, Richard. The Evolution of Morality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 2006. ISBN 978-0-262-10112-7.
evolution of morality joyce.
- Shermer, Michael. Transcendent Morality. The Science of Good and Evil. 2004. ISBN 0-8050-7520-8.
Given this presupposition, it seems reasonable to be both a transcendentalist and an empiricist, or what I call a transcendent empiricist.
- Kurt Baier, "Difficulties in the Emotive-Imperative Theory" in Paul W Taylor (editor): The Moral Judgement: Readings in Contemporary Meta-Ethics Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963
- Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture (Mentor)
- Panayot Butchvarov, "Skepticism in Ethics" (Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1989).
- Ronald F. Duska, "What's the Point of a Business Ethics Course?", 1 Business Ethics Quarterly 335-352(1991), reprinted in Sterling Harwood, ed., Business as Ethical and Business as Usual (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1996), pp. 11-21.
- R.M. Hare, Sorting out Ethics (Oxford University Press)
- Gilbert Harman & Jarvis Thomson, Moral Relativism and Moral Objectivity (Blackwell Publishing), 1996.
- Sterling Harwood, "Taking Ethics Seriously -- Moral Relativism versus Moral Realism" in Sterling Harwood, ed., Business as Ethical and Business as Usual (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1996), pp. 2-4.
- Sterling Harwood, "Against MacIntyre's Relativistic Communitarianism" in Sterling Harwood, ed., Business as Ethical and Business as Usual (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1996), pp. 5-10.
- David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. Tom L. Beauchamp (Oxford University Press)
- G.E. Moore, Principia Ethica (Cambridge University Press)
- Jean-Paul Sartre, "Existentialism is a Humanism" in Existentialism From Dostoevsky to Sartre, ed. by Walter Kaufmann (World Publishing Company)
- Leo Strauss, The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism, ed. Thomas L. Pangle (University of Chicago Press)
- Edward Westermarck, The Origin and Development of the Moral Ideas Macmillan, 1906.
- Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Harvard University Press)
- David B. Wong, Moral Relativity (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1986), 248 pages.