Philosophy Index

Moral Universalism

Moral universalism is the position in meta-ethics that some moral values, or moral system, can be applied universally to everyone — or at least everyone in similar circumstances. It is also known as universal morality, moderate moral realism or minimal moral realism, and is a form of ethical objectivism.

Moral universalism holds that moral values apply to individuals regardless of their personal opinion, or the majority opinion of their culture. Other characteristics such as religion, race or gender are also excluded from moral judgements.

Moral universalism does not neccessarily imply that morals exist apart from humanity itself, but considers sources of morality outside of opinion. Universal truths about human nature and/or reason may come into play as reasons for the universality and objectivism of morality.

Moral realism and moral absolutism are strong forms of universalism. Realism is stronger in that it holds that moral truths are real in the same sense that other truths, such as those about the physical world, are real, while absolutism holds that moral and immoral acts are always so regardless of context.