On Disingenuity

Sup­pose some­one claims that all moral­ity is rel­a­tive, but when pressed on whether this would ap­ply even to mur­der, they act eva­sive and re­fuse to give a clear an­swer. A critic might con­clude that this per­son is dis­in­gen­u­ous in re­fus­ing to ac­cept the clear log­i­cal con­se­quences of their be­lief.

How­ever, sup­pose that there’s a re­ally strong so­cial stigma against as­sert­ing that mur­der might not be bad. Sup­pose there’s one even stronger than what ex­ists within our so­ciety, such that mak­ing such a claim would sig­nifi­cantly dam­age their rep­u­ta­tion, even though there’s no con­se­quence for mak­ing the ac­tu­ally stronger claim that all moral­ity is rel­a­tive. The rel­a­tivist might there­fore see the critic as the one who is dis­in­gen­u­ous; try­ing to lev­er­age so­cial pres­sure against them in­stead of ar­gu­ing on the ba­sis of rea­son.

Thus in the right cir­cum­stances, each side can quite rea­son­ably see the other as dis­in­gen­u­ous. I sus­pect that ev­ery­one will have ex­pe­rienced both sides of the coin at differ­ent times de­pend­ing on the is­sue be­ing dis­cussed.