Survey: Moral relativism on the rise in Poland

For the last ten years, there has been a systematic shift from moral absolutism in favor of relativism, suggests the latest report by Poland’s Centre for Public Opinion Research (CBOS)

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: KAI/
Picture: G. Adamczyk

The rise in moral relativism in Poland concerns people from many ways of life, even those who declare themselves believers, deep believers or regular practitioners.

Only 19 percent of respondents expressed the view that one should have clear moral rules and never stray away from them, while 41 percent of respondents stated that while clear moral rules were desirable, they should be omitted if a situation demanded doing so.

Twenty percent of adult Poles are of the opinion that it is good to have permanent, immutable rules, but stepping away from them during certain life situations was not something evil.

Since 2009, the number of people convinced of the necessity of having unchangeable moral rules decreased from 31 to 19 percent.

On the other hand, 15 percent supported the idea of acting completely depending on the situation, and claimed that clear moral rules were baseless as circumstances defined what actions were ethically correct in a particular moment.

Since 2009, the number of people convinced of the necessity of having unchangeable moral rules decreased from 31 to 19 percent. Those who supported so-called situational morality increased from 9 to 15 percent.

People who are aged 65 and above, who practice religion, and those who had right-wing political preferences, were most likely to support moral absolutism.

Those who supported moral relativism, however, were most often non-practitioners with left-wing views who lived in large cities. They were also most often students.

CBOS pointed out that the growing conviction among Poles that human behaviors should be dependent on situational context rather than absolute rules, corresponds with an increase since 2005 in the belief that the determination between good and evil is everyone’s internal struggle. Such an opinion is currently held by 65 percent of respondents.

The opinions of Poles on the sources of ethnic rules are differentiated mainly by religion measured by the frequency of participating in active worship. People who practice religion a few days a week most often claim that God’s laws should decide what is good and what is evil (48 percent believe this). Other groups are dominated by the conviction that deciding between good and evil should be an individual’s internal affair. Moreover, the less one participates in religious practices, the more often one believes that social norms should be the source of moral rules.

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