James Rachels' article, "Morality is Not Relative," is incorrect, he provides arguments that cannot logically be applied or have no bearing on the statement of contention. His argument, seems to favor some of the ideas set forth in cultural relativism, but he has issues with other parts that make cultural relativism what it is.
The first mistake is in his comparison following the example of there being different moral codes. In outlining and explaining the cultural differences argument, he gives an example that he began the article with regarding the Callatians and the Greeks, and their differences in funerary practices. Rachels asks that "from the mere fact that they disagreed, that there is no objective truth in the matter?" His answer is that "no," and that the answer one could derive is that one of those beliefs is altogether incorrect and wrong. Here Rachels' statement seems to negate that which he wants to negate but it is through manipulation of the parties involved and the adding of "facts' that aren't there. These two cultures in his example to not disagree about anything, there are simply two different ways they deal with death. Because they are different, doesn't necessarily imply there is any disagreement. So my answer is yes, this example does mean that there is no objective truth, because we cannot say that their practice (Greeks vs. the Callatians) is incorrect or immoral as much as they can say our practices are immoral. To label a culture's belief in certain practices as possibly being "mistaken," doesn't sound very openminded in any way at all.
The next example Rachels uses to make his point clearer, is that in certain societies, because they believe that the earth is fla...
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The objections I have to Rachels' argument against morality being relative are pretty much limited to the way he applies his examples. He applies them in a way to win the support of the reader, but looking further into them, they don't seem to be accurately applied or in some cases even seem hypocritical to those ideas of cultural relativism that he does support. There are some glaring problems I have with Rachels' argument, otherwise he does bring up some good points about what he thinks is right regarding cultural relativism, and several of those examples that he does use are illustrated in a way to be understood by someone as simple as myself.
1."Morality is Not Relative," by James Rachels, edited by Louis Pojman, collected in Philosophy: The Quest for Truth. Wadsworth Publishing 1999.
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