Absolutism vs Relativism

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  • Topic: Morality, Saudi Arabia, Cultural relativism
  • Pages : 1 (412 words )
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  • Published : March 9, 2011
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Absolutism is the view of thinking that there is a single standard in terms of assessments that can be made, and that standard is usually their own. In a clash of cultures, they often see the other culture as simply wrong insofar as it deviates from their own. Relativism sees each culture as correct in its own world and they deny any exhaustive standard in terms of which conflicting cultures can be judged. Philosophical flaws involved with two notions in relation to the concept of tolerance can be illustrated by the example of female genital mutilation practiced in Saudi Arabia. One must be a relativist in order to have a high tolerance for this. In other words, a relativist would say that each culture is right unto itself so forced clitoridectomies can be morally permissible in those countries but what if a Saudi Arabian family living in America is practicing such thing in a clandestine way? Is it right to accept such an act as a relativist? If accepting the absolutist idea (in this case Saudi Arabian genital mutilation would be the absolutist idea) is considered tolerant, is it morally right to be tolerant? Absolutists would maintain that such practices are illegal in America and they should be banned everywhere. That makes them intolerant in theory but it is certain that a majority of people from non-Arabic countries would be against the practice of clitoridectomies, and this makes us intolerant. Should we be labeled intolerant when it comes to being against this kind of practice? Should relativism be deemed better than absolutism? It is hard to say so.

Another example would be “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Yet what do you do if you are an American executive of a multinational corporation in Rome and income tax comes around? Typically in Italy, it is considered silly to give away your entire hand on the first bid and much is initially concealed. Italian government won’t expect complete honesty, yet to an American businessperson to file a false tax...
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