The challenge of cultural relativism. James Rachels. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press () . What different positions have gone under the name of “cultural relativism”? What does Rachels think is the essence of the theory? Do you find the theory. James Rachels’ essay, The Challenge of Cultural Relativism, is primarily a critique of cultural relativism and, in a way; the writer has put forward.

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For instance, the covering of breasts with a scarf is part of some cultures and is not really important for other cultures. Cook – – Oxford University Press. Tilley – – Ratio Juris 11 3: While this premise is true and, factually, different societies have different moral values it does not follow that there is no objective morality. What he was learning in his philosophy class challenged what he had learned about cultural relativism as a core concept in anthropology and he was surprised to find it examined negatively by a philosopher.

Sign in to use this feature. You are commenting using your Facebook account. As we discussed the position James Rachels took in the article assigned to the ethics class, it became clear that Rachels’ understanding of cultural relativism differed from that of most anthropologists: In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Herskovits – – New York: No keywords specified fix it.

Project MUSE – Cultural Relativism: Interpretations of a Concept

Defence of Cultural Names. In his explanation, Rachels writes about the different values that require no standard. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. Oxford University Press, It delativism have thhe helpful if another philosopher had presented an anthropologist’s view of cultural relativism, but fairness was not the textbook’s objective. Rachels rejects cultural relativism because, in his view, cultural relativism is identical to ethical relativism, and this equation leads to an inability to criticize any society’s beliefs and practices, including our own.


Shomali – – Saqi Books. A need for a standard, hence, is vital. For instance, the writer rightly points out that some cultures believe in heliocentricity and others may still believe in a geocentric arrangement of the universe.

John Ladd – – Belmont, Calif.

On The Challenge of Cultural Relativism | Ramble. Focus. Ramble.

Morality and Cultural Differences. These problems ask for a moral standard of values through with progress can be measured and some abusive practices can be discouraged. Cultural Relativism in Social and Political Philosophy.

This site xultural cookies. The Problem for Normative Cultural Relativism. For Rachels, however, differences in the morality or value of customs—the relativity of moral values—become the central problem of cultural relativism Rachels Ethical Relativism and Universalism.

You are commenting using your WordPress. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Thus, cultural and moral relativism stand in the way of discovering those universals.

To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: From an anthropologist’s point of rachel, the most serious flaw in Rachel’s notion that cultural relativism presents a “challenge” to philosophy is that he simply hasn’t done his homework, and knows little about anthropology or its central purpose—to understand and learn about the variety of human cultures, past and present. However, several things soon became clear.

On The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

Hence, we are stuck at the same problem; objectivity or no objectivity. The fact that there are values that pertain to every culture and time denies that this hypothesis the stature of a law.

North and Latin American Perspectives. These cultural differences are just practices and customs relating to different areas and times and may not be morally relativiam or wrong.

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Works Cited Gardner, Martin. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars jaames. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.


An Analysis of the Foundations of Morality. His main criticism of cultural relativism is simple: You are commenting using your Twitter account. Cultural Relativism cannot be a law particularly because of these values that are common everywhere and at all times. His essay does not pretend to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject, nor does he indicate anything but a nodding acquaintance with what anthropologists have said about the subject.

Cultural relativism is part of our training as social scientists as well as humanists—we participate and learn to understand and appreciate [End Page ] another culture, inevitably returning to our own culture to write and teach about what we have learned.

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Eventually, the writer touched upon challlenge most interesting and pragmatic aspect of the theory.

The challenge of cultural relativism

Johnson An relaativism anthropology student came to me with an assigned reading in a philosophy course at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Obviously, reason has always persuaded man to believe that telling the truth is always more beneficial for all societies, and necessary for communication. Firstly, the argument against Cultural Relativism proposes that since different values prevail in different societies there can be no objective standard.

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