Cultural Relativism

Cultural Relativism

Cultural relativism tends to argue that the activities that entail a certain culture are never morally wrong as long as they are acceptable by the culture in question. This is not true in its entirety as basing on this argument, we are not able to judge the ethics and morals behind acts such as the holocaust and other forms of cannibalism that are evident in certain culture. The article begins by narrating stories and explanations that entice the reader on accepting the belief systems of the cultures in question. The arguments appeal to the reader because one is able to appreciate the different cultural belief systems and the reasons behind some of their activities.  The writer is biased as he only points out on those stories that appeal to the reader and does not delve into the ones that are usually controversial such as those of racism and genocide. The writer points out that with time, the different cultural beliefs are bound to improve for the betterment of society. He argues that the improvements are a sign that the older beliefs and practices were flawed and had to be improved. He uses instances such as the abolishment to slavery that was evident in the western nations, the worldwide improvement of the issues concerning gender equality and many others.

This is not entirely true as there are instances where the cultural beliefs and practices have changed for the worst. This is evidenced in areas where certain communities have lived together in harmony and then later turned to violence by engaging in acts of war. This is evident in many parts of the world life Zaire where communities such as Hutus and Tutsis have lived in harmony with each other for decades. Their relationship soured as they engaged in a genocide that left many dead. This shows that the cultural beliefs and practices are indeed dynamic but do not necessarily change for the better.

The dynamism of cultural beliefs and practices also goes against the idea behind cultural relativism. This is because cultural relativism highlights that a society’s culture is never wrong as long as it is accepted by the particular culture. The article goes ahead to argue against cultural relativism by narrating an example of the cultures that still hold the belief that the earth is still flat. Scientific evidences including space photography are evident that the earth is indeed spherical. This shows that certain beliefs are indeed mistaken even if the belief is acceptable in that culture. This is an objection to cultural relativism, which states that universal truths in ethics are non-existent, there exists only differences in various cultural codes and none is more morally correct than the other.

The article further highlights the flaws that are evident in cultural relativism where none of the beliefs and acts of a certain culture is deemed to be morally wrong. The article highlights that with this mentality in mind, horrific and inhuman acts such as genocides, racial segregation and prejudice, slavery and many others would have to be taken as acceptable norms in the human race. Under this belief, the rights and wrongs would have to be judged under the customs and beliefs of the culture in question. This would also make segregation in the south to continue as it was acceptable there unlike in other states.

The article however defends the idea behind cultural relativism by stating that it is indeed true but to a certain extent. He explains that cultural relativism should not be rejected on its face value. The article argues that there indeed exist instances where differences in the existing belief systems have been confused to be divergences from the cultural moral values. This is as the case of the community that honored their dead by consuming them. This cultural act cannot be reasonably judged as immoral as many do but is to be taken as a different cultural belief from what the rest believe in. The article continues to defend cultural relativism by stating that it enables people to appreciate different cultures and harbor an open mind to different cultures from ones own.

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