“Fact or Opinion”: On Preventing (or Unwinding) Moral Relativism

In this week’s episode Mr. Michael Moynihan discusses an exercise that allows teachers to isolate the relativistic variable in the moral minds of their students. What is relativism? What is the exercise? And why does any of this matter to those of us just trying to live the good life–however you define that?

Mr. Moynihan’s article available here.

Check out Mr. Moynihan’s follow-up webinar below:

  • Michael recommended several resources during the webinar.  In particular, C.S. Lewis’ The Abolition of Man, in addition to the same principles presented in fictional form through his Space Trilogy, including Out of the Silent PlanetPerelandreaand, most especially, That Hideous Strength.  
  • Michael offered Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Lecture, as a good overview of the “dehellenization” movement along with Fr. James Schall’s book of the same title–The Regensburg Lecture–as a more in depth yet still accessible discussion of Benedict’s remarks.
  • Finally, Michael also recommended two books by Peter Kreft: A Refutation of Moral Relativism, and Socratic Logic.
  • Michael also noted that “there is no silver bullet.”  The problems of moral relativism are difficult to unwind in a particular class or with a simple exercise.  In his words, and put briefly, “the problem of moral relativism is a complex one because it is so deeply ingrained in our culture. A complete answer is to pass on a full liberal arts education and the best possible human and spiritual formation to young people and for us to seek to deepen our own intellectual and spiritual lives as well.  This means different things for different ages of children. For young children it may be as simple as reading them good stories and making sure they spend time in nature. Older children are ready for more intellectual content. An outline of what this education looks like is here: https://heightsforum.org/series_post/really-going-education-today/
Michael Moynihan

About the guest:

Michael Moynihan


A native of Rochester, NY, Michael Moynihan earned B.A. degrees in history and science pre-professional studies with a concentration in the Honors Program from the University of Notre Dame. He graduated Summa Cum Laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. After teaching for one year and earning a master’s degree in theology from The Catholic University of America, he joined the faculty of The Heights School in 1995. He has taught chemistry, Advanced Placement chemistry, eighth grade science, ethics, math and religion, has coached The Heights’ cross-country team and founded The Heights Mountaineers program. Michael was named Head of the Upper School in 2002. He and his wife, Angela, have eleven children, with four sons here at the School.