Culture Relativism states that we cannot absolute say what is right and what is wrong because it all depends in the society we live in. James Rachels however. James Rachels summarizes the former theory into one brief statement: “Different cultures have different moral codes.” (Rachels, 18) Ethical relativism. Cultural Relativism. Morality differs in every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. Ruth Benedict, PATTERNS OF CULTURE ().

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Abu Rizvi December 6, HCOL A Cultural and ethical relativism are two widespread theories that are used to explain the differences among cultures and their ethics and morals.

He had no desire to mask his true personality and conform to the tendencies of his culture. They may be exempt from prosecution because they have conformed to custom and possibly law. There may be circumstances, rachesl as isolated societies, in which suitable medical treatment is unavailable to parents or unknown to them and this may mitigate their moral responsibility.

Therefore, it may be arguable that cultural or ethical relativism does not apply to most cultures, only to those on the extremities that Benedict cites. In the first example, Rachels argues that, according to cultural relativism, because there is a disagreement between the two cultures, this leads to the conclusion that there could not possibly be a true objectively right procedure for disposing of the dead.

For example, Eskimos do not value infanticide when other cultures do not—they simply use it as a means of survival while other cultures do not need relatovism.

Cultural Relativism

Benedict supports the notion that the morals, ethics, and actions of different cultures of people are simply the result of many years of cultural evolution, through accidental isolation of and contact with other cultures. While each culturally-specific ritual may be difficult to understand for other cultures, the culture in which it is followed sees it as indispensable and imperative for survival. Benedict does not take into account the points that Rachels addresses about the similarities among cultures.


For instance, writing insociologist William Graham Sumner, affirmed: Rather than having a strict set of universal rules that govern the morality of different cultures, Benedict argues that many cultures are at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to specific areas of culture and lifestyle.

Hemsley Long Paper Prof. Both Rachels and Benedict use a plethora of examples to support their analyses.

Cultural Relativism | WYSU

Here is the argument: While it would be considered morally repugnant in our society to feel good after completing such an endeavor, those involved in the war party and the killings felt good upon their return to Sebaa. I believe, further, that modern international moral affirmations, such as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, support my position. There are some characteristics of cultures that are not based upon any universal moral code.

In general, senseless murder is to be regarded as a negative action rachwls is detrimental to the furthering of society.

James Rachels: The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

As a result, he makes assumptions on the lack of differences among cultures that should not be made. Remember me on this telativism. Together, they address the entirety of cultural relativism and what concrete rules lie beneath the everyday actions of members of cultures around the world.

Instead, he believes that all cultures have some values in common—that there is less disagreement among cultures than it seems. Not every culture has a reason to believe that their fellow members are out to poison them with black magic. The conclusion, however, concerns what really is the case. His latter example about Earth is an argument over scientific fact, while his former two disposal of the dead and infanticide are arguments over moral code. Different cultures have different moral codes.


Rachels translates cultural relativism into the fact moral ethics are not universal—they are simply a matter of opinion that differs from culture to culture.

This duty is part of the general custodial duty of parents to help, instruct, and preserve their offspring, a duty addressed by British philosopher, John Locke, more than three hundred years ago in his Second Treatise of Government. Along those same lines, it is imperative that the young of the society be cared for so that they may carry it into the kames.

Benedict, 36 In one instance, a chief responded to the apparent death of his sister and her daughter by gathering a war party and eventually killing seven men and two children while they were sleeping. He states that we agree that we should not eat our grandmother, when only pages before he discusses the disagreement over eating relatives. One example Benedict uses is that of an island of northwest Melanesia. As time goes on, certain actions begin to become congenial, and others, uncongenial.

The third conclusion is that the idea of moral progress would be called into doubt, meaning that a culture could not evolve to become even more moral than it once was—as, again, they could never be rslativism morally wrong by another culture in the first place. Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link.