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Are moral principles absolute?


Moral principles are absolute in the sense that they always have some weight, but they are non-absolute in the sense that, depending on the context, some outweigh others.

I have a moral obligation to feed my family, and I also have a moral obligation not to steal. But in some contexts, the one obligation may outweigh the other.

When this happens, the principle that is being outweighed does not lose all force.

This is why, if I steal food from a store owner to feed my family, I still owe him reparations—even though, the circumstances being what they were, I was right to steal.

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