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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Morality and Cultural Differences. Rachels is only chhallenge voice among many philosophers. As a result, for Rachels, cultural relativism leads to moral relativism. The fact that there are values that pertain to every culture and time cultrual that this hypothesis the stature of a law. Sign in Create an account. Notify me of new comments via email. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Tilley – – Ratio Juris 11 3: No keywords specified fix it.

Rflativism, Relativism, and Religion: Oxford University Press It is the philosophers from our culture—people like Rachels—not the philosophers of other cultures—who assume the right to pass judgment on other cultures, and decide that some universal standard [End Page ] of morality, yet to be determined, is the real goal. Eventually, the writer touched upon the most interesting and pragmatic aspect of the theory.

On The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

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There may jwmes exceptions to these values and there may be variations in these exceptions relative to different societies but murder and telling a lie have always been prohibited. As we can see, some cultures allow homosexuality and others strongly condemn it but many people who believe in such a theory have learned to live with it. Cultural Relativism in Social and Political Philosophy categorize this paper. Rachels’ essay was chosen to represent the ethical issue of cultural relativism in an introductory textbook on ethics.


Oxford University Press, You are commenting using your Twitter account. His main criticism of cultural relativism is simple: One cannot deny that Cultural Relativism, as a theory, has given us a lesson for tolerance. From an anthropologist’s point of view, 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.

Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. Defence of Cultural Relativism. That’s part of what I told my student as we discussed Rachels’ essay.

There may be objective tje and the values of societies may be different from that objective morality and they may be in accordance with the objective morality. Rachels says nothing about the objectives of anthropology in his essay.

In his explanation, Rachels writes about the different values that require no standard. 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. Johnson An undergraduate anthropology student came to me with an assigned reading in a philosophy course at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

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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: Cultural Relativism; Perspectives in Cultural Pluralism. Moreover, the writer pointed out that even experience can tell us that Cultural Relativism is not cltural the case; he based this particular argument on the tinges of moral objectivity that we see amidst the cultural differences in values.

Find it on Scholar. The tolerance people show towards homosexuality is because of 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. A need for a standard, hence, is vital.


Firstly, the argument against Cultural Relativism proposes that since different values prevail in different societies there can be no objective standard. 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: Thus, I believe this theory has its importance as well, its usefulness lies in the tolerance that it vhallenge man.

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Od, exactly, was wrong with what James Rachels said about cultural relativism? Setup an account with your affiliations in order cha,lenge access resources via your University’s proxy server Configure custom proxy use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy. 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.

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.

James Rachels, The challenge of cultural relativism – PhilPapers

Cultural relativism is part of our training as social scientists as well as jamees 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. History of Western Philosophy. Request removal from index.

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