Culture Relativism states that we cannot absolute say what is right and what is wrong because it all depends in the society we live in. James Rachels however. James Rachels summarizes the former theory into one brief statement: “Different cultures have different moral codes.” (Rachels, 18) Ethical relativism. Cultural Relativism. Morality differs in every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. Ruth Benedict, PATTERNS OF CULTURE ().

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Rachels argues that cultural relativism would continue to support the notion that, because there is a difference of a opinion, there cannot be one truly correct belief. Benedict is even more correct in her analysis of the differences among cultures.

Neither group felt the other was correct. Therefore, killing female babies at birth helps to keep the population from becoming skewed overwhelmingly female, and helps to reduce the burden on the family during travel. Rachels misses the point when it comes to what morals and other characteristics are universal across all cultures.

Morality differs in every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. The conclusion, however, concerns what really is the case.

There are definitely universal moral codes that underlie all of the human cultures around the world, as Rachels claims. Along those same lines, it is imperative that the young of the society be cared for so that they may carry it into the future. Log In Sign Up. Therefore, there is no objective ‘truth’ in morality. However, Rachels does not subscribe jmaes the theory of cultural relativism.

For instance, if one society believes that the earth is flat and another that it is spherical, we should not conclude that there is no objective truth about the shape of the earth. Rachels uses that concept to make three conclusions regarding cultural relativism. For instance, writing insociologist Rachel Graham Sumner, affirmed: One example Benedict uses is that of an island of northwest Melanesia.

James Rachels: The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

Click here to sign up. According to Benedict, all cultures and their people start out with a persuasion in one direction of moral standards. James Rachels summarizes the former theory into one brief statement: To support his argument, he uses multiple examples.


I believe, further, that modern international moral affirmations, such as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, support my position.


Rachels draws the somewhat-incorrect conclusion that if the theory of cultural relativism is accepted, one would no longer be able to criticize a different culture for its practices. The fact is that one of the societies may simply be mistaken.

The tradition is it own warrant. In the second example, he states that cultural relativism supports the notion that because there are differing opinions on the morality of infanticide, that there is again no true objectively moral action with regard to killing babies.

Different cultures have different moral codes. There is no way, on the other hand, to scientifically prove in and of themselves, not with relation to the environment or any other external factor whether cremation or cannibalization is morally better, or whether infanticide is morally right.

The people there believe that everyone else is using black magic to poison them. There is nothing moral about whether or not Earth is flat—it has been scientifically proven that Earth is an oblate spheroid. It is not held subject to verification by experience. Help Center Find new research papers in: With the possible exception of the proper treatment of dead bodies, all of the examples cited by both Rachels and Benedict show members of a particular culture performing actions or following certain rules in a method consistent with the belief that doing so will keep the culture moving in a positive direction.

Either way, however, it is hard to find an underlying factor shared by all cultures that would drive that specific culture to hold that specific belief.

Abu Rizvi December 6, HCOL A Cultural and ethical relativism are two widespread theories that are used to explain the differences among cultures and their ethics and morals. His latter example about Earth is an argument over scientific fact, while his former two disposal of the dead and infanticide are arguments over moral code.


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The first conclusion is that a member of one culture would not be able to consider any other cultures inferior to their own, as it would not rlativism true—they are simply all different. According to Locke, the duties of parents to their children and their authority over them cease when the children become adults.

One final example that he uses to support rflativism analysis is the difference between cultures that refuse to eat cows and those who do not.

Cultural Relativism

Both Rachels and Benedict use a plethora of examples to support their analyses. Hemsley Long Paper Prof. While each culturally-specific ritual may be difficult to understand for other cultures, the culture in which it is followed sees it as indispensable and imperative for survival.

He had no desire to mask his true personality and conform to the tendencies of his culture. The notion of right is in the folkways. Certain aspects of cultures simply jammes be unified under one universal moral code hames governs all of the human race. Instead, he believes that all cultures have some values in common—that there is less disagreement among cultures than it seems.

Skip to main content. Similarly, at face value, many in the United States may feel that Eskimo infanticide is rachelw abhorrent, Rachels argues that it is actually quite logical. Moreover, our own code has no special racels it is merely one among many.

As time goes on, certain actions begin to become congenial, and others, uncongenial. Rachels is correct in his belief that there are many aspects of cultures that are not exclusive to specific cultures. A prominent ethical theory, cultural relativism, holds that the right or the good is the customary. There are some characteristics of cultures that are not based upon any universal moral code.