Not sure if this is
the one you mean, Brigid, but it's the only one I could find:
Damn, I thought I'd
got away with not explaining. Claims of "absolute truth"
or "absolute good (or evil)" are untestable by observation
or measurement. They result from appeal to "Pure Reason".
The Skeptics (in ancient Greece) saw relativity as inescapable (Xerox
never experiences things exactly like Exxon). But Plato and Aristotle
attempted to escape it with an appeal to a "Pure Reason"
which didn't depend on our fallible senses. These days, all but
a small minority of conservatives in philosophy circles realise
that this search for Pure Truth failed. But it seems to live on
in some political "debates".
"Absolute truth" and "absolute
evil" can never be demonstrated, merely asserted. And "70%
absolutely true" makes no sense - absolutism implies an either/or
(two-valued) logic: either something is absolutely true or it isn't.
The "relativistic" alternative appeals
to the fact that we actually evaluate and make decisions based on
observations and measurements. This generally implies multi-valued
scales and probabilities. Even if your observation/measurement involves
a clear dichotomy: "Joe is happy" vs "Joe is unhappy",
when you bring in multiple observers (or multiple observations by
a single observer over time), you inevitably end up with scales
and probabilities (outside of necessarily true statements - true-by-definition
formalisms - of course).
"Joe was unhappy 95% of the time at work"
"Joe was unhappy 2% of the time whilst relaxing at home"
"20 observers reported that Joe was unhappy at 09.15 on Tuesday"
"3 observers reported that Joe was happy at 09.15 on Tuesday"
(This holds even for relatively well-established
scientific "laws", which aren't seen as absolutely true,
but as "corroborated so far" by a finite number of experiments.
Incidentally, 20th C. scientists came up with multi-valued logics
to replace the Aristotelian eithor/or. John von Neumann's 3-valued
logic, "yes, no and maybe"; Anatole Rapoport's 4-valued
logic, "true, false, indeterminate and meaningless", etc.
Most claims of "absolute truth" and "absolute evil"
would fall into Rapoport's "meaningless" category, as
they can never be tested - Rapoport regarded forever-untestable
statements as "meaningless").
The above "Joe is unhappy" example
might seem frivolous. But consider a possible future headline: "IRAQIS
HAPPIER NOW THAN UNDER SADDAM". Then consider the "debates"
about whether Iraqis really "are" or "aren't"
happier. Multiple social indicators tell us something (often something
important) which generally can't be reduced to "Iraqis are
happier" (or the inevitable tabloid follow-up, "ULTIMATELY
THE IRAQ WAR WAS A GOOD THING").
The best way to avoid Dubya's rebranded Aristotelian
logic ("Saddam's regime is evil", "you're either
with us or with the evil terrorists", etc) is to avoid it yourself.
And you don't avoid it by mirroring it - eg by saying (or indirectly
implying) "capitalism is evil", or similar. The most you
can say is "Capitalism has effects X, Y, Z, etc, according
to studies A, B, C, etc". That's usually damning enough for
most unEvil people.