A lecture by Prof. Michael Pakaluk (The Catholic University of America)
Free and open to the public
The history of philosophy is filled with refutations of relativism, to wit: “A certain type of superior person is found asserting ‘everything is relative’. This is of course nonsense, because, if everything were relative, there would be nothing for it to be relative to.”—a riposte that is attributable not to Plato or Aristotle, but to Bertrand Russell! Yet why does a position apparently so easy to refute, need to be constantly refuted? Why does “moral” relativism seem particularly compelling? When people decry “moral relativism,” are they actually concerned about something else? Is moral relativism even very prevalent—or has it turned out to be more like a passing tactical posture in a broader societal shift?
Michael Pakaluk is Professor of Ethics at the Catholic University of America and an Ordinarius of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas. The author of several books on Aristotle’s ethics, and many scholarly articles in the history of philosophy, he has played a major role in the revival of philosophical attention to friendship. He has taught formerly at Ave Maria University and Clark University. A Marshall Scholar, he wrote his dissertation at Harvard under John Rawls. He lives in Hyattsville, Maryland, with his wife and eight children. His edition of the writings of his late wife, Ruth, was published by Ignatius Press under the title, The Appalling Strangeness of the Mercy of God. His latest book is The Memoirs of St. Peter, a new translation with commentary, on the hypothesis that Mark was the “interpreter” of Peter’s oral narratives.