Cultural Relativism

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Assess Rachels’ critique of the main argument for normative cultural relativism (NCR), i.e., the Cultural Differences Argument. How might a proponent of NCR respond to Rachels critique? Is the response effective? Why or why not?

In this essay, I will discuss James Rachels’ article “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism”, in which he criticizes the normative cultural relativism argument which is about how different cultures have different moral codes, thus there is no single truth to define “truth” or a correct set of moral codes because the idea of right or wrong varies within cultures. Firstly I am going to explain what the cultural relativism argument is about and then present my assessment of Rachels’ critique regarding this argument from careful analysis of the argument. Through this assessment I will demonstrate the possible response of a proponent of the NCR argument in regards to Rachels’ critique. In conclusion, I will evaluate both perspectives to present my own assessment of the response. The Cultural Relativism argument is associated with the idea of a general tolerance and respect for difference, which refers to the idea that cultural background and perspective is critical to an understanding of different people’s values, beliefs and practices. The supporting example for this argument is that “the Greeks believed it was wrong to eat the dead, whereas the Callatians believed it was right to eat the dead. Therefore, eating the dead is neither objectively right nor objectively wrong. It is merely a matter of opinion, which varies from culture to culture.” Thus, the Cultural Relativism argument simply tries to state that under any circumstances it is intolerant of us to judge other cultural practices as unethical, immoral or wrong. The morals and ethics of a culture can only be applied to that specific culture and can be understood only through the practices of that culture, therefore other cultural...
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