Cultural Relativism And The Moral Values Of People From Other Cultures Essay

Cultural Relativism And The Moral Values Of People From Other Cultures Essay

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2. Is it wrong to criticise the moral practices of people from other cultures? How would a Cultural Relativist answer that question? How would you answer that question?

There are many ethical issues and beliefs that come into debate when the practices of another culture are believed to be immoral, cultural relativism is an attempt at solving these moral disputes by encouraging an attitude of tolerance to all cultural practices. The principle of cultural relativism that holds that the practices of another culture cannot be judged as right or wrong on any independent standard as morality is dependant on one’s own cultural upbringing. Morality is as they would say, “a matter of opinion”. While this at a distance this axiom seems to be perfectly sound it has a large amount discrepancies that are seen when examined closely or imagined hypothetically. Within this essay I will be examining the main arguments of cultural relativism such as the moral diversity of all cultures, the absence of any moral truths that can be universally acknowledged, that one can’t criticise or question their own culture’s practices in the name of social progress as it is intolerant and finally that cultures cannot have moral superior practices or morals that are superior to another.

The theory of cultural relativism is dependant on the belief that all cultures are morally diverse. The first argument for cultural relativism comes from the observation that cultures highly differ in their cultural practices and ideas of what is immoral and moral. A highly used example is written by Herodotus in which he compares how the Calculations would eat their dead as a funerary practice while the Greeks would cremate their dead. To both cultures the other’s funerary pra...


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...lesser than their own. I have shown how cultural relativism assumes that a moral truth is not independant of people and how it fails to account for the possibility that some cultures might just be “wrong”. By imagining a society of cultural relativist we observe that many actions that would be normally considered immoral by others would become accepted, meaning that unfair actions such as actions only serving the majority of a society or the sacrifice of other cultures to serve another’s means as a culture is more likely to have the norm of putting themselves above another. These flaws mean that I believe that criticise of the immoral actions of another culture are necessary to insure that there is cooperation and peaceful conduct between nations, interference is only necessary when it is in violation of human welfare (which is a basic value that all cultures have).

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