In the meantime, the mermaid dies of loneliness and despair. The fisherman leaps into the sea in a frantic effort to rejoin her, but he is no longer innocent (that is, he now knows both good and evil through experience), and therefore he cannot live underwater. His heart breaks, and at the last moment his soul gains entry into his broken heart. The bodies of the fisherman and the mermaid wash onto the beach and are buried without benefit of clergy in an obscure corner of a field. Eventually, though, much to everyone’s amazement, gorgeous white flowers spring from the unmarked grave. The flowers are displayed upon the local church’s altar, and the priest, learning of their origin, undergoes a radical change of heart. His transformation is recorded in an appropriately biblical fashion:
Conditional duties involve various types of agreements, the principal one of which is the duty is to keep one's promises.
More recently, discussions of relativism have been at the center of debates about how societies with large immigrant populations should deal with the problem of multiculturalism. To what extent should the practices of minorities be accepted, even if they seem to conflict with the values of the majority culture? In France, a law was passed in 2011 banning face veils that some Muslim women view as required by Islam. Those supporting the ban appeal to values they consider universal such as sexual equality and freedom of expression (which the face veil is said to violate since it inhibits expressive interaction). But critics of the policy see it as expressing a kind of cultural intolerance, just the sort of thing that relativism claims to counter.
— David French is a senior writer for National Review , a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.