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The Importance Of Cultural Relativism

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Cultures and societies around the world often have different moral beliefs. From an anthropological perspective, to deny cultures any validity in their moral beliefs would be a delusional ethnocentric refusal of cultural relativism. From a moral philosophical perspective, however, this is a conflicting matter. Is morality then simply a social construct based purely on arbitrary opinions? Are there no universal moral truths? In response, conventional ethical relativism puts forth the notion that there are indeed no objective moral truths. In other words, “there are no absolute or objective moral standards that apply to all people everywhere”, which would make all moral beliefs justified as a result of cultural relativism (98, 100). Another response to this moral dilemma would be that moral objectivism still holds because morals…show more content…
To believe that cultural relativism cannot coexist with objective moral truths would be mistakenly oversimplifying what objective moral truths entail. Anthropological cultural relativism often shows there are moral differences “only in belief[s], not in substantive moral principle[s]” (102). As Pojman points out, “[m]orality does not occur in a vacuum … [it] must be seen in a context, depending on the goals, wants, beliefs, history, and environment of the society in question” (102). Through understanding that we cannot judge and then impose our beliefs onto other cultures based on our own, we can see indirect similarities between moral principles across cultures that would otherwise appear immoral. To use another point raised by Pojman, the debate between pro-choicers and pro-lifers is not about whether we should be morally allowed to kill people, it is about “whether fetuses are really persons … not the principle [emphasis added] of killing innocent people”
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