Cultural Relativism Essay

1358 words - 5 pages

There are an enormous amount of people in this world that we live in. All of these people belong to different cultures and societies. Each society has traits and customs that make it different from any other. Every society has their own way of looking at and dealing with certain situations. "Different societies have different moral codes" (Rachels 618). This claim is known as Cultural Relativism. "Cultural Relativism, as it has been called, challenges our ordinary belief in the objectivity and universality of moral truth. There is no such thing as universal truth in ethics: there there are only the various cultural codes, and nothing more. Moreover, our own code has no special status, it is merely one among many" (Rachels 618). It is clear that the answer to the question of ethics is, Cultural Relativism.The subject of murder is probably the most common issue thought to be an absolute wrong. This is not always the case; murder has its place in many cultures. Eskimo customs are very different from our own. "The Eskimos practice infanticide as well as the killing of elders. So there seemed to be, in this society, remarkably little respect for life" (Rachels 617). We view these customs as inferior to ours. But when you look at it, this practice is necessary for the survival of the of the group. The elders are too old to contribute to the group but yet they consume precious food. The males within the Eskimo groups are looked higher upon because they are the hunters and food providers. The killing of female infants helps keep the ratio of males and females even. So many males die when there out hunting. If they didn't kill the female babies then the females would dominate the group and they would never have food. Infanticide and killing of elders does not mean that Eskimos have less compassion for their children, nor less respect for human life, they just know that murder is sometimes needed to make sure that the Eskimos do not become extinct.To continue with the subject of murder, there are many questions about murder that our own society faces. Within our own society there are conflicting views on topics such as abortion, capital punishment and, euthanasia. A lot of people consider these to be murder, to others they are needed in society. This shows that even within our own society, there is a conflict between what is morally right or wrong. There is an exception to every moral absolute. This eliminates the possibility of Moral Absolutism, and proves there is no universal truth . Another reason I believe in cultural relativism is because it helps us out in certain ways. "It can help alert us about the consequences of thinking that our preferences are based on a certain standard. Most practices that we follow are strange to our society, and it easy to loose sight on that" (Rachels 622)."One example of this is funerary practices. The Callatians, according to Herodotus, were "men who eat their fathers"--a shocking idea, to us at least" (Rachels 622)....

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