Challenge of Cultural Relativism

Topics: Morality, Culture, Cultural relativism Pages: 4 (1054 words) Published: May 6, 2008
2.1 How Different Cultures Have Different Moral Codes
Observed fact: different cultures have different moral codes odifferent things taboos and obligatory
oeven opposing things as the Darius anecdote illustrates
among the Greeks
one is morally obliged to cremate the dead
one is morally forbidden to eat them
among the Callatians
one is morally obliged to eat the dead
one is morally forbidden to burn them
2.2 Cultural Relativism
Relativist Conclusion drawn from facts like these
oThere is no objective (absolute universal) morality -- no morality per se; rather just Ancient Greek morality
Callatian morality
traditional Eskimo morality
modern American morality (such as it is . . . )
etc.
o"X is Good" is an incomplete expression meaning
"X is good in culture Y" or
"in our culture we approve of X"
oMorality differs in every society and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. (Ruth Benedict) 2.3 The Cultural Differences Argument
The Argument
1.Different cultures have different moral codes
2.So, there is no objective right or wrong, no objective good or evil universally holds for all cultures
holds absolutely, regardless of what anyone believes
Criticism: the argument is unsound: conclusion doesn't follow from the factual premise oas shown by parity of reason argument, substituting belief 1.Ancients believed the earth was flat & we believe it's spherical or "round". 2.Therefore, the earth has no objective shape.

1.flat for the ancients
2.round for us
3.but the earth is really round -- the ancients were just wrong oIn general it does not follow from the fact of subjective disagreement that there is no objective fact of the matter being disagreed about. 2.4 The Consequences of Taking Cultural Relativism Seriously •Reductio argument

oProvisionally assume X . . . if CR were true
oDraw out the consequences . . . this would follow
oShow that the consequences are absurd . . . but...
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