Moral Absolutes and the Value of Human Life

I have been reminded –as of late– that many people do not believe that there are moral absolutes or, for that matter, truth. Everything is flux. Man is the measure of all things. Truth is relative. You have heard it all before.

After a little philosophical inquiry, however, it seems that it is not that people believe that there is no truth, but that when we find it we never really know what it is, what it smells like, what it feels like, etc. So then there is no proof, no evidence, nor any coherence to any claim made in an effort to establish (or recognize) even a single truth.

This is where I found myself a couple of weeks ago, circling the drain of purposelessness, in an Intro to Philosophy course (that I am teaching).

But suddenly, in the midst of discussing Plato’s discourses, one student stated that it has always been wrong to displace the rights of any humans! This was chasms away from the run of the mill cultural relativism that so plagues our classrooms (and society). This claim was made because every person has innate value–the majority of the class agreed. All of a sudden students were advocating a truth claim (though somewhat obscurely); they were acknowledging human value behind human rights as an Absolute.

From this I would deduce, perhaps brazenly, that Americans typically do not budge when it comes to the value of human life or the inalienable rights of every “man”. (This is true even in the case of life issues where rights-based arguments are made to advocate immoral acts).

And yet, being the obnoxious philosopher-type that I am, I began audibly wondering -as I  believe we must- what value is there in acknowledging the value of human life if there is no Value-Giver? I suppose it does create an economically and socially productive society… but to what end? The value of human life is valueless if only for dirt.

Without an acknowledged, caring Value-Giver, life is little more than vain monotony.


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Mike T.Steve Phillips Recent comment authors
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Steve Phillips

Objective values present a problem for the committed philosophic naturalist. What your students have recognized is that all of us live as if there are some objective values such as the inherent value of human beings which supports the concept of universal human rights. However, from the veiwpoint of those who deny the supernatural there is no reason to expect those objective values to be there. C. S. Lewis makes the argument that the empirically observed existence of those objective values leads to looking for a source of those values outside ourselves which can lead a person to an understanding… Read more »

Mike T.
Mike T.

All Life has unalienable Rights! See the book titled: “Scientific Proof of Our Unalienable Rights,” by Michael T. Takac