Cultural Relativism Essay Research Paper Topic 1

9 September 2017

Cultural Relativism Essay, Research Paper

Subject 1: Cultural Relativism

Cultural relativism, as defined by Ruth Benedict in her article A Defense of Cultural Relativism, is the theory that human morality is based on the society in which an person is a portion of. The footing of a society? s morality comes from cultural traditions, wonts, and what the bulk believes to be right and incorrect. Benedict uses her anthropological surveies to back up her thoughts refering cultural relativism. The theory of cultural relativism is criticized and questioned by many ; and it is considered one of the weakest statements refering to the footing of morality. Some of these unfavorable judgments come from William Shaw in his paper Relativism in Ethics. In his paper, Shaw sets out to turn out that Cultural Relativism is non a strong plenty theory on which to establish the being of human morality. In this paper I will discourse the thoughts of cultural relativism and the jobs with them. Whether cultural relativism is a feasible footing for morality or non, society must play some axial rotation in finding the manner people act and perceive right and incorrect.

Cultural relativism as an account for the ethical motives of human existences is a logical and convincing thought. Harmonizing to the theory, people base their single ideas, actions and beliefs on the ethical motives of the society in which they are a portion. The single physiques their ain morality around what society believes is good, bad, right or incorrect. Society sets its ain ethical motives by taking a way in one manner or another on a certain belief. This belief is so incorporated into society and becomes the norm. Anything non considered to be moral is tossed aside and considered to be unnatural. This is what the theory of cultural relativism is based on. It is an account of why different societies have different thoughts refering ethical motives.

Harmonizing to Ruth Benedict, the normalcy of a society is defined by its civilization as what is good and abnormalcy as what is bad. This in bend defines what is socially acceptable and unacceptable in a society. Positions as to what is good and what is bad alterations from civilization to civilization. For illustration, the society in which we live believes it is morally acceptable to eat animate beings, and we see no injury in that. Another society might believe that the feeding of animate beings is inhumane and therefore immoral. The two societies disagree as to what is right or incorrect, moral or immoral on the behaviour of eating animate beings, and cultural relativism explains why. The norms of a society are the criterions by which to populate. Those who live their lives within the moral boundaries of society are accepted and viewed as a good, moral people. Those who do non conform to the norms of society are seen as castawaies and are non accepted by the whole of society. As cultural relativism explains, a individual who does non follow the norms of one society may well suit into another society where their positions are more socially acceptable.

Ruth Benedict? s statement back uping cultural relativism is a convincing account of the morality of persons. Be it converting or non, the thought of cultural relativism is a weak position of the footing of morality. Arguments opposed to cultural relativism are set Forth by William Shaw in his paper Relativism in Ethics. Shaw concludes with the dismissal of cultural relativism as a valid theory of the account of societal ethical motives.

Shaw starts out in his paper with the account of cultural relativism, much like I have antecedently, explicating the footing of the theory. He so points out several statements that question the theory of cultural relativism. The first resistance introduced by Shaw is the inquiry? What proportion of a society must believe in a certain behaviour or thought to do it moral? ? In cultural relativism, what is believed to be right or incorrect is a standard set by what the bulk believes is right or incorrect. The minority of a society can ne’er be right unless it can convert the bulk to hold with them. Shaw goes on inquiring what makes up a bulk? Is at that place a set per centum of people that have to hold on something to do it moral or immoral? If that per centum is set high so it will be hard run intoing the standard of a moral bulk. One illustration Shaw gives has to make with abortion. If 75 % of people are needed to do a behaviour ( in this instance abortion ) or belief right, wha

T happens if say merely 60 % of society condone abortion? The bulk of society believes that abortion is morally allowable, but it is still incorrect because the bulk did non make the standards of 75 % . If the bulk of society is overpowering on an issue so the inquiry becomes less of a job. In contrast to holding a high criterion for a bulk is puting a low one. If a bulk is considered to be 51 % of the people so the job of moral? flip-flopping? , as Shaw calls it, becomes a job. One twelvemonth 51 % of people think abortion is good and hence moral. The following twelvemonth merely 49 % of people agree with abortion doing it immoral. The issue of abortion in society can and likely will go on to alter as clip goes on. This is one illustration of a job with bulk regulations in the theory of cultural relativism.

Another inquiry raised by Shaw refering the relevancy of cultural relativism is? what defines a society? ? Harmonizing to Shaw we are all a portion of several different societies. For illustration, I am a member of the society of the United States, the society of the University of Minnesota, and my ain societal society dwelling of my friends. Each of these single societies portion the bulk of the ethical motives that I follow, but they all have several of their ain single moral criterions non shared with the others. Which society that I am a portion of sets the criterions of right and incorrect that I am to populate up to? The relativist would state that each society that I am a portion of is right in its ain manner, even though I may be acquiring inconsistent moral ideals from each society.

Shaw concludes that cultural relativism is? false as a theory of normative moralss? . He states that the inquiries he set Forth are non to rebut relativism but to seek replies. Answers a relativist, such as Ruth Benedict, can non give. Harmonizing to Shaw, relativists maintain that society sets the thoughts of what is right and incorrect and? this is the lone criterion by which an person? s actions can be judged? . Shaw goes on to postulate that non merely does a relativist avoid giving a nice ground in support of their theory, cultural relativism does non co-occur with our values of morality. A relativist believes that whatever a society considers to be right and moral is right and moral for them. Shaw concludes his article by stating? ? it seems clear that a society that applauded random anguish of kids would be immoral, even if it thought such a pattern was right. It would merely be mistaken, and disastrously so. ? With this statement, Shaw states his dissension with ethical relativism.

After reading the two articles I used to compose this paper I feel I got a good apprehension of the construct of cultural relativism. When I foremost read Ruth Benedict? s article back uping cultural relativism I was sold. I have ever believed that the ethical motives persons hold are a direct consequence of the society they are a portion of twenty-four hours in and twenty-four hours out. Peoples want to make what is right so that they can play a productive and respectful axial rotation in society. If a individual did non stay by the societal criterions in a society it would be difficult to be respected. After reading the 2nd article, this one written by William Shaw, my belief in cultural relativism was in inquiry. Shaw pointed out several cardinal statements that truly made the thought of cultural relativism lose its black and white simpleness that Benedict proposed in her article.

Even though I do non believe that cultural relativism should be accepted as a theory on which to establish the manner we live ; I do believe that society plays some axial rotation in the manner we live our lives. Cultural Relativism is excessively simple of a theory on which to establish the full being of human ethical motives on. I believe that people for the most portion act the manner society wants them to move. If people did non follow socially acceptable criterions they would non work good in the society. This would be unwanted for both the person and the society. This is what society is all about and what makes it work. If everyone followed their ain thoughts of what is moral and immoral society could non work. I believe that ethical motives come from more than one beginning and no one thing can be given recognition for the ethical motives an single possesses. Society may play a axial rotation in the morality of human existences, but it does non account for all morality as claimed in the theory of cultural relativism.

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