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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Underlying his ideas is the suspicion that cultural and moral relativism are a threat Secondly, the writer pointed out the different limitations of cultural relativism. In his explanation, Rachels writes about the different values that require no standard. Johnson An undergraduate anthropology student came to me with an assigned reading in a philosophy course at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. This entry has no external links. 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.

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. Saral Jhingran – – Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. His main criticism of cultural relativism is simple: 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.


Cultural Relativism and Philosophy: However, several things soon became clear. History of Western Philosophy. Cook – – Oxford University Press. Hence, we are stuck at the same problem; objectivity or no objectivity.

What, exactly, was wrong with what James Rachels said about cultural relativism? Obviously, reason has always persuaded man to believe that telling the truth is always more beneficial for all societies, and necessary for communication.

Morality and Cultural Differences.

James Rachels, The challenge of cultural relativism – PhilPapers

Interpretations of a Concept Thomas H. The fact that there is no measure for societal progress without a standard and no moral value, belonging to any society, can be discouraged, looked down upon or prohibited can be a major problem. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. An undergraduate anthropology student came to me with an assigned reading in a philosophy course at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

Project MUSE – Cultural Relativism: Interpretations of a Concept

Firstly, the argument against Cultural Relativism proposes that since different values prevail in rslativism societies there can be no objective standard.

This article has no associated abstract. The student was confused. While this premise is true and, factually, different societies have different moral values it does not follow that there is no objective morality.

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Added to PP index Total downloads 20of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 3of 2, How can I increase my downloads? Thus, I believe this theory has its importance as well, its usefulness lies in the tolerance that it teaches man.


Interpretations of a Concept. Seungbae Park – – Cultura 8 1: That’s part of what I told my student as we discussed Rachels’ essay.

Finally, having cited several well known examples of customs our society would never condone, such as sharing of wives among some Eskimo, Rachels has one generous thing to say about cultural relativism: These cultural differences are just practices and rachel relating to different areas and times and may not be morally right or wrong.

On The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

Eventually, the writer touched upon the most interesting and pragmatic aspect of the theory. Defence of Cultural Relativism. You are commenting using your Facebook account.

This site uses cookies. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: However, the tolerance that they teach different societies is of value. John Ladd – – Belmont, Calif. Rachels is not a social scientist.

The challenge of cultural relativism

Herskovits – – New York: Cultural Relativism cannot be a law particularly because of these values that are common everywhere and at all times. Project MUSE Mission Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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