Culture Relativism states that we cannot absolute say what is right and what is wrong because it all depends in the society we live in. James Rachels however. James Rachels summarizes the former theory into one brief statement: “Different cultures have different moral codes.” (Rachels, 18) Ethical relativism. Cultural Relativism. Morality differs in every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. Ruth Benedict, PATTERNS OF CULTURE ().

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I believe, further, that modern international moral affirmations, such as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, support my position. Click here rache,s sign up. The first conclusion is that a member of one culture would not be able to consider any other cultures inferior to their own, as it would not be true—they are simply all different.

Together, the arguments made by both Rachels and Benedict amount to different cultures implementing different moral standards in an attempt to survive as a culture. Cultural relativism does, in fact, exist—but not to the extent that Benedict might predict, nor to the extent that Rachels has denied its existence.

While it would be considered morally repugnant in our society to feel good after completing such an endeavor, those involved in the war party and the killings felt good upon their return to Sebaa.

In the first example, Rachels argues that, according to cultural relativism, because there is a disagreement between the two cultures, this leads to the conclusion that there could not possibly be eelativism true objectively right procedure for disposing of the dead.

Relatiivsm latter example about Earth is an argument over scientific fact, while his former two disposal of the dead and infanticide are arguments over moral code. Rachels misses the point when it comes to what morals and other characteristics are universal across all cultures. Here is the argument: For instance, writing insociologist William Graham Sumner, affirmed: There are definitely universal moral codes that underlie all of the human cultures around the world, as Rachels claims.


Skip to main content. A prominent ethical theory, cultural relativism, holds that the right or the good is the customary. Both Rachels and Benedict use a plethora of examples to support their analyses. As time goes on, certain actions begin to become congenial, and others, uncongenial.

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Cultural Relativism | WYSU

Remember me on this computer. One final example that he uses to support his analysis is the difference between cultures that refuse to eat cows and those who do not.

Paradox and Discovery, Fifth Edition, p. According to Rachels, Eskimo mothers often kill their female babies after birth, without social stigma being attached to the action. The conclusion, however, concerns what really is the case.


While each culturally-specific ritual may be difficult to understand for other cultures, the culture in which it is followed sees it as indispensable and imperative for survival. While seen in isolation, each would appear to be correct.

Different cultures have different moral codes. To support his argument, he uses multiple examples. He vigorously refutes the theory of cultural relativism using example after example, and general rule after general rule, and in many cases, his analysis is persuasive. The tradition is it own warrant. It is not held subject to verification by experience. He did not run around killing people at random, as may be expected by someone of Western culture. Along those same lines, it is imperative that the young of the society be cared for so that they may carry it into the future.

There is no rule that states that moral cultures must abide by such a code, and that any culture that does not is not moral. One example Benedict uses is that of an island of northwest Melanesia. Benedict, 36 In one instance, a chief responded to the apparent death of his sister and her daughter by gathering a war party and eventually killing seven men and two children while they were sleeping.


Cultural Relativism

As Rachels puts it, “There is no reason to think that jamess the world is round everyone must know it. Benedict uses extreme examples to support her points. According to Locke, the duties of parents to their children and their authority over them cease when the children become adults.

Rather, he was simply a nice guy who liked relativims work and be helpful. When the two theories are combined, they form a complete theory that some anthropologists and philosophers apply to cultures to describe rituals and actions that differ among them. Help Center Find new rlativism papers in: However, Rachels does not subscribe to the theory of cultural relativism.

There are some characteristics of cultures that are not based upon any universal moral code. According to Benedict, all cultures and their people start out with a persuasion in one direction of moral standards. The ‘right’ way is the way the ancestors used and which has been handed down.

Each culture has its own individual methods to ensure its survival that are not based on any particular tie to the entire human race or its morals, as they are on environmental factors and interactions with other cultures. Another situation addresses the Eskimo practice of infanticide. Rather than having a strict set of universal rules that govern the morality of different cultures, Benedict argues that many cultures are at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to specific areas of culture and lifestyle.