Cultural Relativism

Topics: Morality, Cultural relativism, Religion Pages: 2 (635 words) Published: October 16, 2007
Cultural Relativism
This essay covers various aspects of cultural relativism and its argument to readers. Cultural relativism is a theory, which mainly concentrates on differences in values and moral beliefs of different people. To help explain the concept of cultural relativism I have used James Rachels argument. The main idea of cultural relativism is that "Different cultures have different moral codes" (Rachels 652). This means that there is no thing as ‘universal truth', and what is right or wrong can and most often varies. A cultural relativist argues that different societies have different moral beliefs and this means that what seems morally right in one society can be considered to be morally wrong in another society. According to this theory, there aren't any independent standards but instead standards are culture bound (Rachels 652). Furthermore, according to cultural relativism, no culture or code has any special status and all of them (including ours) are just like any other (Rachels 652). Basically what is right or wrong is determined by the codes and beliefs of the society. The society sets the norms and standards for people to follow. Cultural relativism also believes that judging other societies and the conduct of people in different societies is unacceptable. Cultural relativism theory argues that "different cultures have different moral codes" (Rachels 653); and "right and wrong are only matters of opinion, and opinions vary from culture to culture" (Rachels 653). According to this argument, Rachels claims that societies have different moral values. Different cultures have different values and questioning other societies is inappropriate. If society X believe that eating pig is morally permissible, according to cultural relativism it is correct – because this theory believes that each society has its own values and standards and so it would be wrong to judge their particular action morally wrong or right. Similarly, society Y believes it morally...

Cited: Rachels, James. "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism." Cahn, Steven M. and Peter Markie. Ethics. n.d. 651-658.
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