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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Cultural Relativism in Social and Political Philosophy. 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 challengd. Rachels’ essay was chosen to represent the ethical issue of cultural relativism in an introductory textbook on ethics.

The challenge of cultural relativism

Herskovits – – New York: Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. However, the tolerance that they teach different societies is of value. 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.

Rachels is not a social scientist.

Defence of Cultural Relativism. 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 reoativism what we have learned.

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 in Social relativusm Political Philosophy categorize this paper. You are commenting using your Twitter account. Added to PP index Total downloads 20of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 3of 2, How can I increase my downloads?


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. Email required Address never made public.

Firstly, the argument against Cultural Relativism proposes that since different values prevail in different societies there can be no objective standard. Questions about why certain customs continue to be practiced and transmitted to each generation, or even whether those customs fit into the fabric of the society are never discussed. Obviously, reason has always persuaded man to believe that telling the truth is always more beneficial for all societies, and necessary for communication.

Information This entry was posted on March 15, by hadeelnaeem in Philosophy and tagged Cultural Relativism. The student was confused. Cultural Relativism cannot be a law particularly because of these values that are common everywhere and at all times.

Hence, we are stuck at the same problem; objectivity or no objectivity.

Secondly, the writer rachsls out the different limitations of cultural relativism. This article has no associated abstract. Thus, cultural and moral relativism stand in the way of discovering those universals. 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.

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

Science Logic and Mathematics. 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. Works Cited Gardner, Martin. Tilley – – Ratio Juris 11 3: 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.


North and Latin American Perspectives. There may be objective morality and the values of societies may be different from that chlalenge morality and they may be in accordance with the objective morality. Underlying his chxllenge is the suspicion that cultural and moral relativism are a threat The student had learned, however, that the anthropologist is a participant and an observer at the same time, and that our task is to faithfully portray a challenbe.

Cook – – Oxford University Press. Racheps fact that there is no measure for societal progress without a standard relativizm no moral value, belonging to any society, can be discouraged, looked down upon or prohibited can be a major problem.

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University’s proxy server Configure custom proxy use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy. A need for a standard, hence, is vital. Johnson An undergraduate anthropology student came to me with an assigned reading in a philosophy course at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

It would have been helpful if another philosopher had presented an anthropologist’s view of cultural relativism, but fairness was not the textbook’s objective. For Rachels, however, differences in the morality or value of customs—the relativity of moral values—become the central problem of cultural relativism Rachels Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

Cultural Relativism and Philosophy: In this case, we can easily identify through science, evidence and reason that one of these cultures is mistaken. Rationality, Relativism, and Religion: Request removal from index.