Moral Relativism and the Holocaust

What can the Holocaust teach us about morality and ethics? Does the Holocaust pose a challenge for moral relativism? Zygmunt Bauman argues yes. In Modernity and the Holocaust, Bauman argues that the Holocaust proves that societal rules, norms and standards cannot be the only source of morality. Perpetrators often argued in court that they were only following the law of their country. How can we judge them if morals are the product of a relative social context? Instead, Bauman argues, the source of morality is in a fundamental responsibility to another in proximity. And there’s plenty of evidence for this. A biological repulsion to killing, for example. Or the distancing and division of labor that was required to scale the genocide. If proximity and responsibility are at the heart of a kind of moral objectivity, what might the consequences of this be?
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