Any global political theory must start by asking whether there are in fact universal moral values, and this chapter addresses precisely this question. Section I engages in a conceptual analysis of the terms ‘moral universalism’ and ‘cultural relativism’. Sections II–V then critically examine four arguments for moral universalism, finding three unpersuasive and one (the ‘General Argument for Moral Universalism’) more promising. Sections VI–XIV analyse nine challenges to moral universalism that argue for cultural relativism; none of these, it is argued, is persuasive, since some rest on implausible assumptions or misconceive the nature of universalism, while others, on closer inspection, have claimed that they rest on moral universalism. Section XV summarizes the overall case made for moral universalism.
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