I finally received Drescher's new book. I had written about it before in this blog entry. Here is an excerpt on ethics:
Ethical relativism is an understandable reaction to centuries of opposite excess, in which the powerful have proclaimed tha their self-serving values - entitlement to conquer vulnerable peoples, and to the subservience of slaves, women, and the poor, for instance - are moral absolutes that others are obliged to yield to and could rightly be forced to yield to. Ironically, these putatively absolute moral values have been rationalized by appeal to two quintessentially relativist sources: faith and tradition. Faith, after all, is just a strong subjective feeling as to what's true. And tradition is just an appeal to ancient peer pressure (typically intimately interwoven with faith). Deriving moral foundations from tradition leads us to conform to the beliefs and behavior of people who - though they did their best with the knowledge then available - lived long before even a high-school education existed. But as every child learns (or should), the claim that "everyone else does it," or has always done it, is a poor justification for one's conduct.
P.S. Drescher does defend an objective approach to ethics.
P.P.S. The link below is a fun story I found on Jeff Bridges' website that this excerpt reminded me of.