How Universalism Is Ethnocentric? Essay

How Universalism Is Ethnocentric? Essay

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Furthermore, Seyla Benhabib, a Turkish-American philosopher and Professor of Political Science at Yale University, combats the claim of scholars, like Mohanty, that universalism is ethnocentric. While some intellectuals believe that universalism is a concept that the West has internationally promoted without considering other cultures that may differ from the West, Benhabib strongly disagrees. First, Benhabib puts forth the idea that other cultures have been and are compatible with the West. Like Nussbaum, she believes that our cultures are not as different as we have come to believe. She states that universal legal principles have been created as a product of all cultures in all areas of the world feeding off one another. Those who believe that universalism is ethnocentric fail to take into account the “complex global dialogue across cultures and civilizations.” The universal principles in the UDHR set the bar for what is moral and just in all areas of the world. Moreover, Benhabib problematizes the beliefs of cultural relativists by writing that there are “false assumptions about cultures, their coherence and purity” and that we need to recognize the “radical hybridity and polyvocality of all cultures.” Cultures do not speak with one voice and are not homogenous. Therefore, promoting group rights would be keeping certain people who have less power than others of the same culture at a disadvantage. Additionally, it should be noted that promoting group rights alone, without any care for the rights of the individual, would pose even greater issues of inequality and oppression in our world today than those that currently exist.
In “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?”, Susan Moller Okin provides an example of why the French may ha...


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...self-immurement within ethnocentric standards on the other.” It is necessary to recognize the politics of difference amongst cultures while still providing individuals with their basic human rights as well as an effective right of exit from cultural practices. Although universalism presents problems that we as global citizens have to fix so that universal principles can be fairly and adequately applied to citizens around the world, it is clearly far better than simply promoting group rights. Individuals who promote group rights and fail to find the positives of universalism are often those who do not understand the aims and goals of universalism, properly formulated. It is possible to keep moral, symbolic, and ritualized cultural practices in place into the future while also securing the human rights of life, liberty, and security of person for all global citizens.

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