Cultural Relativism : Ethical And Moral Standards Essay

Cultural Relativism : Ethical And Moral Standards Essay

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Cultural Relativism
Cultural Relativism is the theory that ethical and moral standards are based on what a particular society deems to be good or bad. Since different societies have different beliefs, cultural relativists believe there are many moral codes in the world. Cultural relativists believe there is no universal moral code, which is an independent standard that defines what is right or wrong all of the time, regardless of place.
There are many different examples of Cultural Relativism in society. One instance was the practice of infanticide in Eskimo communities during the early to mid-20th century. “Knud Rasmussen, an early explorer, reported meeting one woman who had borne 20 children, but had killed 10 of them at birth" (Rachels & Rachels, 2012). While this seems shocking and unethical to us, this practice was accepted by the Eskimos as a form of population control and survival. An current example of Cultural Relativity is polygamy. In many areas of the world, including parts of India and Africa, polygamy is widely accepted. However, most people in the United States oppose polygamy, believing it to be “wrong.” These examples show that the beliefs of different societies shape each societies moral code.
As with any theory, there are arguments in favor of and arguments against Cultural Relativism. James Rachels & Stuart Rachels (2012) introduced the “Cultural Differences Argument” as an argument for Cultural Relativism. This argument is based on two premises. The first is that different cultures have different moral codes. The second premise follows that if you believe the first, then there is no universally correct moral code, only matters of opinion that vary by culture. Cultural relativists argue that “the...


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...ne can also praise God, because he could have done otherwise. However, there are also problems with the Natural Law theory.
In order to subscribe to the Natural Law theory, one must believe that Natural Law exists apart from God, leaving “morality independent of religion” (Rachels & Rachels, 2012). The second problem is that something exists that God didn’t cause. This is counterintutive to many people who believe that everything stems from God.
If I had to select one theory to be right, I would select the Natural Law theory. This theory can be expanded to show there is a universal standard that applies to everyone, outside of religion. It seems to me that there has to be something inherent in human nature, because most people want to do what is right, regardless of their belief in a higher power. Under the Divine Command Theory, the same case cannot be made.

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