Consider the definition of a sociopath:

“sociopath [(soh-see-uh-path, soh-shee-uh-path)]
Someone whose social behavior is extremely abnormal. Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.”

Now consider the definition of moral relativism:

Moral relativism states that there is no objective moral truth, that each person is responsible for developing his or her own ethical rules to live by.

Does anyone notice a correlation between these definitions? “…interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.”

I like the way Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl describe it in their book, Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air, “Another way to assess the validity of a moral system is to see what kind of person it produces. Given a particular standard of morality, the person who is most moral is the one who practices the specific system’s key moral rule consistently” (p. 30). “What do we call those who most thoroughly apply the principles of relativism, caring nothing for others’ ideas of right or wrong, those who are unmoved by others’ notions of ethical standards and instead consistently follow the beat of their own moral drum?” (p. 31).

So why are people surprised when business executives behave in a manner that is “unethical?” Aren’t they operating by their own set of ethical values? Isn’t this the perfect example of ethical relativism? I would say business executives have learned only too well what moral relativists have been espousing all along!

— sociopath. (n.d.). The American HeritageĀ® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved February 19, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sociopath

— Beckwith, F. J. & Koukl, G. (1998). Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

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