Relativism and Universalism

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July 2, 2010
Ethics
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Relativism and Universalism

The battle between relativism and universalism ideologies has been going on for several years now. There have been many highly respected people agreeing and disagreeing on which belief is right and wrong. The two well known are American Anthropologist Ruth Benedict and Dr. Louis Pojman. Upon reading their work, I found both of them to have very excellent points. I found myself hard to just pick one ideology. After reading both of their ideas and contemplating I came to the conclusion that I agree and disagree in Relativism and Universalism. Relativism suggests that we are not to judge other cultures for what they do or believe. An example would if you were raised to believe that dogs were pets, yet in China, a dog is also food. Someone who believes in relativism would not judge the dog eating as "right" or "wrong", because there isn't a "right" or "wrong". Here is another example that I think more people can understand better. In the Middle East women are required by law to wear specific clothing called a burka. If they don’t obey by wearing a burka they can sometimes be fined and imprisoned for up to two months. As awful as that may sound to others, it’s what that cultural has been doing and working for them for a long time. It may seem weird to people who are not from the Middle East, but it’s not oue place to intervene. I feel sometimes relativism can be taken to the extreme and needs to be intervened. This is a Universalism steps in. We as people should follow certain rules just because we are all human. It should not matter what are cultural is or religion we believe or part of. Dr. Louis Pojman has written some guidelines that all people should follow. One of his rules that I find all people should follow is “Do not cause unnecessary pain or suffering”. An example that I find that pertains highly to what I’m talking about is in the Middle East wife’s...
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