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Universal Morality also known as Moral Universalism is a system of ethics and morals that is believed to be universal to all mankind. It differs from both moral absolutism and moral relativism. It is believed to have evolved via natural selection and similar versions of this morality are thought to exist in other highly intelligent species including ceteceans, corvids, and primates.
Differences between Moral Universalism and Moral Absolutism
Despite being called "universal", moral universality is very different from moral absolutism. Moral absolutism means that morality is inflexible, rigid, and often includes seemingly arbitrary prohibitions usually derived from religion. Moral Universalism on the other hand is very simple. Anything that causes pain, suffering, or harm to another individual is immoral; thats it. Arbitrary religious prohibitions don't enter into the equation.
Differences between Moral Universalism and Moral Relativism
Although it differs greatly from absolutism, moral universalism is not the same as moral relativism. Moral relativism states that there is no one morality and that morality is determined entirely by culture. This is in direct opposition to proponents of universal morality who state that our moral foundations are evolutionary in nature. While recognizing the role of culture, they believe that prohibitions on theft, rape, and murder are universal in nature and neccessary in order to have a harmonious society. Those who do not follow these universal and innate rules could risk serious repercussions from the group including shunning or even death. They point to the altruistic behaviour of other intelligent species to demonstrate that much of our morality is innate, even if we choose to ignore our moral compass.