I’m not a moral relativist, but I am a physiological needs relativist.
Even though objectively people today had less problems than people of the past, and people of the future have less problems than people of the present, Because the human mind is limited thus we perceive our lives the same level of shittiness – its a protective mechanism, otherwise cavemen’s brains would have exploded from shittiness overload.
I think the separation between needs and wants is smaller than you think. I mean, in the past dying at 80 used to be a privilege. Now, tons of people live past that age, survival past age 80 is transitioned from a wishful want to a feasible need for many people. Yet do you really need to live to 80? Many people will still say no, but that is because of the host of problems still associated with aging population as well as health care.
But what if we solved those problems? At some point, the want becomes a right.
Food, for example is a right. it wasn’t always. Dial the clock back, you’d be lucky to get shelter. Dial the clock back further, you’d be lucky to receive a merciful death from a t-rex. Dial the clock back, you’d be lucky to have more than one cell.
I guess physiological needs is part of morality, so I guess that does make me somewhat of a moral relativist – but only in practicality. I want to make it clear that while impossible, everybody deserves nothing but the fullest most painless life, because nobody chose to be born yadda yadda yadda.
There’s a difference between the two relativisms. Moral relativism posits that morality is determined by culture. Practical moral relativism however determines that tolerable errors are determined by capacity. For example, in the past we didn’t have fancy things like DNA testing, and it just wasn’t feasible to investigate at the level of detail we have today so it was allowed to punish a person based on evidence that is insufficient by modern standards – that was the best we could do back then.
However, now that we have modern forensics technology and all that, it should no longer be allowed to punish a person on insufficient evidence, no matter what culture you are. Due process is a human right in the 21st century, and I predict that by the 30th century (and that’s a generous time frame) not committing a crime would be a right, because by then we should have sufficient technology and information to configure the world and people in a way that removes all the core causes of crime.