Universal values ​​and relative values

This time we bring you a new article where we will teach you the differences between Universal Values ​​and Relative Values . Here you will find the definitions of both concepts, their types, their characteristics and practical examples that will help you understand the subject quickly and easily.

Universal values

Relative Values

DefinitionThey are those that promote respect for human life and personal integrity, they are above any legislation or religion.They are those that obey a specific cultural context and place.
TypesReliability, respect, responsibility, fairness (or justice), caring and citizenshipDescriptive relativism, cultural relativism, meta-ethical relativism, normative relativism, moral relativism, non-realistic ethics, and non-cognitive ethics.
AssessmentThese values ​​by themselves, that is, their legitimacy does not depend on individuals knowing how to appreciate it, nor would they be conditioned by society or the time.These are relative to each person and to the social, historical or even biological circumstances in which they arise. Therefore, they say that there are no universal values ​​but that circumstances influence the way of valuing.
ExamplesHuman rightsOn the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in Oaxaca, the women are the ones who dance and the men watch; on the contrary the Muslims, the men are the ones who dance and the women observe.

What are Universal Values

Reliability, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship are the six fundamental universal values. Using them as a basis for ethical thinking can help detect situations in which we focus so much on defending one value that we sacrifice another; for example, we are loyal to friends and therefore do not always tell the truth about their actions.

Types of Universal Values

1. Trust

Reliability refers to a variety of behavioral qualities: honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, and loyalty.


There is no more fundamental ethical value than honesty. We associate honesty with people of honor whom we admire and trust . Honesty in communications has to do with the intention of conveying the truth to the best of our knowledge and avoiding communicating in a way that may be misleading or deceptive.

There are three dimensions:

  • Truthfulness : Truthfulness means not intentionally misrepresenting a fact (lying). Intent is the crucial distinction between truthfulness and truth itself. Being wrong is not the same as being a liar, although honest mistakes can still damage trust.
  • Sincerity – A sincere person does not lie, tell half truths, or remain silent with the intention of creating beliefs or leaving false or misleading impressions.
  • Openness – In relationships that involve trust, honesty may also require us to provide information that someone else needs to know.

Honesty in conduct prohibits theft, deception, and fraud . Cheating is not only dishonest, it takes advantage of those who don’t. It is a violation of trust and justice. Not all lies are unethical, although all lies are dishonest. Sometimes dishonesty is ethically justifiable, such as when the police lie in undercover operations or when one lies to criminals or terrorists to save lives. But ethically sanctioned occasions for lying are rare, for example saving a life.


There are no differences in the way an ethical person makes decisions from one situation to another, there are no differences in the way they act at work and at home, in public and alone. The person of integrity takes time for self-reflection so that the events, crises and needs of the day do not determine the course of his moral life. They are in control .

The four enemies of integrity are:

  • Self-interest: things we want
  • Self-protection: things we don’t want
  • Self-deception: refusing to see a situation clearly
  • Self-righteousness: an attitude that the end justifies the means

When we make promises or commitments to people, our ethical duties go beyond legal obligations. The ethical dimension of keeping promises imposes a responsibility to make all reasonable efforts to meet our commitments .

It is also important to:

  • Avoid Bad Faith Excuses – Honorable people don’t rationalize noncompliance or create justifications for escaping commitments.
  • Avoid reckless commitments – Before making a promise, carefully consider whether you are willing and likely to keep it. Think about unfamiliar or future events that could make it difficult, undesirable, or impossible to keep your commitment. Sometimes all we can do is promise to do our best.
  • Avoid Unclear Commitments – Since others will expect you to follow through on what they think you have promised to do, make sure that when you make a promise, the other person understands what you are committing to do.

Loyalty is about promoting and protecting the interests of certain individuals, organizations, or affiliations . Some relationships (husband-wife, employer-employee, citizen-country) create an expectation of loyalty.

  • Loyalty prioritization: Because so many individuals and groups claim their loyalty from us, it is often impossible to honor them all simultaneously. Consequently, we must classify our loyalty obligations in some rational way. In our personal lives, for example, it is perfectly reasonable and ethical to look out for the interests of our children, parents, and spouses, even if we have to subordinate our obligations to other children, neighbors, or co-workers in doing so.
  • Safeguarding Confidential Information: Loyalty requires that we keep secrets or information learned in confidence.
  • Avoid conflicts of interest: Employees and public servants have the additional responsibility to make all professional decisions on merit, not personal interests. Your goal is to maintain the trust of the public.

2. Respect

Respect is about honoring the essential worth and dignity of all people, including oneself . We have a moral obligation to treat everyone with respect, regardless of who they are and what they have done. We have a responsibility to be the best we can be in all situations, even when dealing with unpleasant people.

Respect focuses on:

  • Courtesy and decency: a respectful person knows how to listen. She treats others with consideration, in accordance with accepted notions of taste and decorum, and does not resort to intimidation, coercion, or violence except in rare and limited cases.
  • Tolerance: An ethical person accepts individual differences and beliefs and judges others only on their character.

3. Responsibility

Life is full of choices. Being responsible means being in charge of our choices and therefore our lives . It means being responsible for what we do and who we are. It also means recognizing that what we do and what we don’t do is important.


A responsible person is not a victim and does not blame or claim credit for the work of others.

Pursuit of excellence

The pursuit of excellence has an ethical dimension when others trust our knowledge, ability or willingness to perform tasks safely and effectively.

    • Diligence: Responsible people are trustworthy, careful, prepared, and informed.
    • Perseverance: Responsible people finish what they started, overcoming rather than giving up on obstacles and excuses.
  • Continual improvement: Responsible people look for ways to do their jobs better.

Responsible people exercise self-control, curbing passions and appetites (such as lust, hatred, gluttony, greed, and fear). They delay gratification if necessary and never feel that it is necessary to “win at any cost.”

4. Equity / Justice

Justice / fairness is a complicated concept. Disagreeing parties tend to argue that there is only one fair position: theirs. But while some situations and decisions are clearly unfair, fairness generally refers to a variety of morally justifiable outcomes rather than the discovery of a just answer .


A fair person uses open and impartial processes to collect and evaluate the information necessary to make decisions. Righteous people don’t wait for the truth to come to them; They seek relevant information and conflicting perspectives before making important decisions.


Decisions must be impartial, without favoritism or prejudice .


It is important not to take advantage of the weakness, disadvantage or ignorance of others.

Fairness requires that a person, a company or a society correct mistakes quickly and voluntarily.

5. Care

Caring is the heart of ethics. It is almost impossible to be truly ethical and not genuinely care about the welfare of others . That’s because ethics is ultimately about our responsibilities to other people. Sometimes we have to hurt those we love and some decisions, while quite ethical, cause pain. But one should not consciously cause more harm than is reasonably necessary.

6. Citizenship

The concept of citizenship includes how we should behave as part of a community . The good citizen knows the laws and obeys them, but also volunteers and stays informed about the problems of the day. Citizens do more than their ‘fair’ share to make society work, now and for future generations. Citizenship can have many expressions, such as conserving resources, recycling, using public transport, and cleaning garbage.

What are Relative Values

Relative Values ​​are the view that moral judgments are true or false only in relation to some particular viewpoint (for example, that of a culture or historical period) and that no viewpoint has a unique privilege over everyone else. It has often been associated with other claims about morality: in particular, the thesis that different cultures often exhibit radically different moral values; the denial that there are universal moral values ​​shared by all human society; and the insistence that we refrain from making moral judgments about beliefs and practices characteristic of cultures other than our own.

Relativistic views of morality first found expression in the 5th century BC in Greece, but they remained largely inactive until the 19th and 20th centuries. During this time, several factors converged to make the relative values seem plausible. These included a new appreciation of cultural diversity fueled by anthropological discoveries; the diminishing importance of religion in modernized societies; an increasingly critical attitude towards colonialism and its assumption of moral superiority over colonized societies; and a growing skepticism toward any form of moral objectivism, given the difficulty of testing value judgments in the same way that factual claims are tested.

For some, relative values, which redundancy is worth, relativizes the truth of moral claims, logically derives from a broader cognitive relativism that relativizes truth in general. However, many moral relativists consider the distinction between facts and values ​​fundamental. A common, albeit negative, reason for embracing moral relativism is simply the perceived unsustainability of moral objectivism : any attempt to establish a single, objectively valid, and universally binding set of moral principles runs up against formidable objections. A more positive argument that is sometimes made in defense of relative values ​​is that it promotes tolerance , as it encourages us to understand other cultures on their own terms.

Critics claim that relativists tend to exaggerate the degree of diversity between cultures, as superficial differences often mask underlying shared agreements. In fact, some say that there is a basic set of universal values ​​that any human culture must uphold in order to prosper. Moral relativists are also accused of inconsistently asserting that there are no universal moral norms while appealing to a principle of tolerance as a universal norm.. However, in the eyes of many critics, the most serious objection to moral relativism is that it carries the pernicious consequence that “anything goes”: slavery is just by the standards of a slave society; Sexist practices are correct according to the values ​​of a sexist culture. Without some kind of non-relative standard to appeal to, critics argue, we have no basis for critical moral appraisals of the conventions of our own culture, or for judging that one society is better than another. Naturally, most moral relativists tend to reject the assumption that such judgments require a non-relativistic basis.

Types of Relative Values

  • Descriptive relativism: Holds that, in fact, moral beliefs and practices vary between cultures (and sometimes between groups within the same society).
  • Cultural relativism : Cultural relativism asserts that human beliefs and practices are better understood if they are grasped in relation to the cultural context in which they occur.
  • Unrealistic ethics: It is the opinion that there is no objective moral order that makes our moral beliefs true or false and that our actions are correct or incorrect.
  • Non-cognitive ethics: It is the opinion that moral judgments are neither true nor false since they are not “fit for the truth”, which means that they are not the type of statements that can have a truth value.
  • Meta-ethical relativism : Meta-ethical relativism holds that moral judgments are not true or false in any absolute sense, but only in relation to particular points of view.
  • Normative relativism : Normative relativism is the opinion that it is wrong to judge or interfere with the moral beliefs and practices of cultures that operate with a moral framework different from their own, that what happens in a society should only be judged by the norms of that society. society.
  • Moral relativism : Moral relativism has been identified with all the previous positions; and no formula can capture all the ways in which the term is used by both its proponents and its critics.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *