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Cultural Relativism: A Moral Fallacy

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Essay title: Cultural Relativism: A Moral Fallacy

Cultural Relativism: A Moral Fallacy

Cultural Relativism is the theory that all belief's are equally valid and that truth itself is relative, depending on the situation, environment and individual. Those who hold the belief of Cultural Relativist, hold that all beliefs are completely relative to the individual within a cultural identity. In this essay, I will show that cultural relativism is unreliable as an ethical theory by showing the irrationality of the arguments that support it.

The key to understanding morality for Cultural Relativist, is to simply say that different cultures have different moral codes (Ethics 652). There are no universal truths in their mind. They believe that there are different customs in every society and cannot be deemed whether they are right or wrong. For example, the female infanticide which is as old as many cultures, remains a critical concern for Americans today. This phenomenon is practiced in China and India. The Chinese and Indian society do not view this practice as wrong or morally incorrect. Cultural Relativist believe that we as Americans should not judge there practices, because they are only relative to there culture. In Cultural Relativism there are no independent standards of what is right and wrong. Every standard is relative to its culture. In each culture, these standards have been handed down by their ancestors. Experience is not a factor in deciding morals. Whatever morals are passed down from the ancestors of a culture is considered morally correct. It is traditional and subjective. For instance, female genital mutilation in Africa is a social custom rather than a religious practice. It is justified by their ancestors and has been passed down through the years. A women's

right is not in question. For Americans to dispute this practice is against what Cultural Relativist believe. They believe that we as Americans have our own moral code and the Africans have there own code as well. Each code has no special status or hierarchy over the other.

According to James Rachel's it is important to analyze the basic ideas of Cultural Relativism because some parts of the theory are correct, where as others are incorrect (Ethics 653). There are six basic ideas that cultural relativist claim: "1. Different societies have different moral codes. 2. There is no objective standard that can be used to judge one societal code better than another. 3. The moral code of our won society has no special status; it is merely one among many. 4. There is no "universal truth" in ethics-- that is, there are no moral truths that hold for all peoples at all times. 5. The moral code of a society determines what is right within that society; that is, if the moral code of a society says that a certain action is right, then that action is right, at least within that society. 6. It is mere arrogance for us to try to judge the conduct of other peoples. We should adopt an attitude of tolerance toward the practices of other cultures (Rachels 653)."

The argument that can be correct from Cultural Relativist is for example the food, clothes, language and driving rules of certain cultures. It is important that these differences remain the same, otherwise

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