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 ().

Author: Zuluran Sagal
Country: Thailand
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Politics
Published (Last): 28 August 2016
Pages: 154
PDF File Size: 3.41 Mb
ePub File Size: 17.9 Mb
ISBN: 225-7-14660-203-6
Downloads: 51141
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Taubar

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.

The third conclusion is that the idea of moral progress would be called into doubt, meaning that a culture could not evolve to become even more moral than it once was—as, again, they could never be considered morally wrong by another culture in the first place. According to Locke, the duties of parents to their children and their authority over them cease when the children become adults.

He states that we agree that we should not eat our grandmother, when only pages before he discusses the disagreement over eating relatives. Most of the actions that people take, and the things that they do, are not based on any underlying moral code.

The two similar theories describe the moral, ethical, and societal differences that diverse cultures experience. While it would be considered morally repugnant in our society to feel good after completing such an endeavor, those involved in the war party and the killings felt good upon their return to Sebaa.

There, it was customary to respond to a death of a person by killing another person. According to Benedict, all cultures and their people start out with a persuasion in one direction of moral standards.

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. One final example that he uses to support his analysis is the difference between cultures that refuse to eat cows and those who do not. Rachels translates cultural relativism into the fact moral ethics are not universal—they are simply a matter of opinion that differs from culture to culture.


As a result, he makes assumptions on the lack of differences among cultures that should not be made. One of Professor Rachels’ key points is that cultural relativism is based on a faulty argument which he calls the cultural differences argument. Similarly, there is no reason to think that if there is moral truth everyone must know it.

Skip to main content.

Cultural Relativism

For example, we would not be able to condemn cultures that enslave people or that commit genocide. 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. Log In Sign Up. Remember me on this computer. Skip to main content.

This specific example addresses the universal moral code of survival that is shared by all cultures. Quoted by Rachels in Shipka and Reativism, p. Benedict uses extreme examples to support her points. Rachels uses that concept to make three conclusions regarding cultural relativism. Rather, he was simply a nice guy who liked to work and be helpful.

As Rachels puts it, “There is no reason to think that if the world is round everyone must know it. He had no desire to mask his true personality racgels conform to the tendencies of his culture.

It does not, however, indicate a lack of cultural relativism, as the simple need to conduct infanticide in order to survive may be exclusive to the Eskimo culture.

Cultural Relativism: James Rachels vs. Ruth Benedict | Gordon Hemsley –

Instead, he believes that all cultures have some values in common—that there is less disagreement among cultures than it seems. However, Rachels does not subscribe to the theory of cultural relativism. 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 be true—they are simply all different. Certain aspects of cultures simply cannot be unified under one universal moral code that governs all of the human race.

Cultural relativism does, in fact, exist—but not to the extent that Benedict might predict, nor to the extent that Rachels has denied its existence. Using these two examples, Rachels comes up with two general arguments that cultural relativism uses: Rather than having a strict set of universal rules that govern the morality of different cultures, Benedict argues that many cultures are at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to specific areas of culture and lifestyle.


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.

It is not held subject to verification by experience. In general, senseless murder is to be regarded as a negative action that is detrimental to the furthering of society. They may be exempt from prosecution because they have conformed to custom and possibly law.

To support his argument, he uses multiple examples. Click here to sign up. 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 is correct in his belief that there are many aspects of cultures rzchels are not exclusive to specific cultures. In fact, it may be argued that even those cultures that share such a belief do not have any reason to.

The Eskimos are a nomadic tribe whose males are often killed during hunting or from the cold. While seen in isolation, each would appear to be correct.

He did not run around killing people at rahels, as may be expected by someone of Western culture. One such situation is about the proper way to dispose of the dead: Shipka and Minton, p. For example, Eskimos do not value infanticide when other cultures do not—they simply use it as a means of survival while other cultures do not need to.

The tradition is it own warrant.