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Cultural Relativism Of Philosophy: . Essay

1470 words - 6 pages

Cultural Relativism and Human RightsCultures with their morals differ from each other across the world and with that indifference comes a conflict about which morals are right. James Rachels challenges the idea of cultural relativism. In this paper I review Benedicts concept and compare it to Rachels challenge, offering my reasoning for disagreement as well.The Cultural Relativism theory puts forth the idea that what is morally right, is relative to the culture that it exists in. For this concept, one must first understand what morals are. Morals concern what is right and wrong. Right and wrong usually concern what is normal in a society. Many people would agree that what is "right" is moral, but there is much debate about what makes something right. Cultural relativists would argue that it is the cultural normality's of a society itself, that makes an action morally right, while others would disagree and claim that there is a set of "universal moral codes" that people should live by. Still, others would point out that what is morally right and wrong can be determined only within the individual mind of a person. This disagreement in morality raises the question of where in the matter, the truth lies, and opens the table for rational discussion. There are many perceptions of moral determinants among humanity, and James Rachels analyzes and tests the cultural relativists theory in order to understand the truth in morality.Ruth Benedict was an anthropologist and supporter of cultural relativism. In conclusion to her observations of various peoples, she argued that normality is relative to culture, morally good is synonymous with normal, and therefore morality is relative to culture. (Philosophy 2201 Required Readings, pg.29) In essence, a societies culture determines what is morally right and wrong. Meaning, that different societies have different moral beliefs, norms and taboos, which are entirely independent of criticism from anyone else. These customs and morals are generally formed out of things such as environments, religions, traditions, knowledge and reason, living conditions, and the survival of a society. The idea behind cultural relativism was the recognition of indifference among humanity. It is way to understand why it is important not to judge a people based on ones own pre-disposition of morals and cultural norms. Ruth Benedict puts as this: " Mankind has always preferred to say it morally good rather than, it is habitual", and contends that morality is learned from the culture that one exists in alone, with no globally universal implications. So with the idea of cultural relativism, we must understand is that we are not morally right ourselves, except within the boundaries that our own culture outlines. Interference with another culture and its practices would be morally wrong. Ruth Benedict makes her argument like this: -Normal differs from culture to culture. Normal is synonymous with moral. Morality then, is relative to culture....

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