HoughtonlakeBoard.org

TIPS & EXPERT ADVICE ON ESSAYS, PAPERS & COLLEGE APPLICATIONS

“The Challenge of Cultural Relativism”      A Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama by the name of James Rachels criticized the idea of Cultural Relativism and the problems that arise from that kind of thinking in a section of his book that is entitled “The Elements of Moral Philosophy.”  Cultural Relativism is the idea that there is no universal moral truth. It suggests that each society has a moral code of their own and it is determined by the traditions of  each individual society. For example, if the customs and traditions of a society says that cannibalism is right, someone who follows Cultural Relativism would have to accept the ways of that society because their belief would deem the disagreement as just a matter of opinion.  James Rachels uses a similar example to this when he wants to show the consequences that arise from talking Cultural Relativism too seriously. He argues that we would no longer be able to criticize other society about extreme things like slavery or the Holocaust. As of 2018, there has been a current slave trade in Libra. Migrants and refugees from all over Africa were being promise new lives in Libra that was far better than their current situations at home, unfortunately that was all a lie. They come and get tricked into being apart of a slave trade. They get tortured and are treated like domesticated animals to do their owner’s bidding. Now as inhuman as this seems, Cultural Relativism would allow this to happen. Rachel’s second concern deals with not being about to criticize your own society. He infers that if one wants to know what is right and wrong, all he or she has to do is asks the society in which he is apart of. The problem with this is that each society has its own problems and is not perfect. Rachel’s third concern feeds of the second concern. “The idea of moral progress would be called into doubt.” (60) Society isn’t perfect, but you aren’t allowed to criticize it. Progress is seen as a good thing to a large majority of people, but it involves diverting from the path of tradition. Cultural Relativism would not allow that to happen. The American civil rights movement or women’s rights movement isn’t allowed to occur if Cultural Relativism is right.        Cultural Relativism is built on the “observation that cultures differ dramatically in their views of right and wrong.” (61) Rachels examines just how different cultures are in their values. He uses an animal about cultures who eat cows and cultures believe it’s wrong to eat cows. Many of those cultures believe that the souls of the dead reside in the animals. Rachels points out that both cultures believe it’s wrong to eat the dead, but the difference is the belief that the cow could potentially harbor a human soul. The values of both cultures are the same, but the belief systems is different. Rachels also uses the example with the Eskimos to further prove this point. Infanticide is common in the Eskimos society, but it is a crime in our society. The Eskimos do not kill the infants because they are heartless animals, but it is because of the way they live. They are remote and live in harsh conditions. They have to think about their survival . Rachel’s also included the  information about the Eskimos giving some of their children up for adoption in their society. Both the Eskimos and American care about children, but the conditions make it hard for the Eskimos to keep all the babies.          Rachels argues that “there are some moral rules that all societies will have in common, because those rules are necessary for society to exist.” (64) All societies have to protect their infants because they need to be taken care of to grow up. Rachels points out that if the young do not survive, then there will be no one to replace to old members. That will lead to the eventual destruction of the whole group. Another example Rachels uses is the importance of truth telling. Society runs on the frequent communication between the members. If those members didn’t tell the truth, there would be no point in talking with each other. That is also the same with the prohibition of murder example. If there wasn’t any prohibition on murder, people wouldn’t be able to trust each other. Everyone would avoid each other in fear of being potential killed. With these arguments and criticism of Cultural Relativism, Rachels effectively shows the absurdity of fully following the idea of Cultural Relativism.

Post Author: admin

x

Hi!
I'm Irvin!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out