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Cultural Relativism

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Cultures are very different and each of them has its own moral codes. Morality is shaped by culture. Behavior and customs of a people are shaped by the existing culture though there is no standard that can be used to weigh whether the existing culture is right or wrong. Therefore it is not possible to judge a given custom and for this reason it is believed that every standard is bound by culture. Habits that are accepted differ in every community because of the different existing cultures. The thesis statement for this essay is: every existing culture may not be morally accepted by other communities but it has to be appreciated.

The argument of cultural relativism as a moral theory

Cultures are different and for this reason there is need for an individual to learn to appreciate these cultures in their diversity. For instance the Greeks prefer to cremate their dead people while the Gallatians in India prefer to eat them. These two cultures are different and someone may not accept them but it is good to appreciate them. Definitely there are strong reasons behind this practice and ones the practicing community accepts it the other communities have one obligation which is to respect and appreciate that particular culture. It is very evident that every community strongly values it culture though the same culture may look as an abomination to another community. In order to maintain harmony among the different communities, appreciation and respecting the portrayed cultures is the only way out. This is the reason why sociologists and other scholars insst that there are different moral codes. For instance the way the ancient Eskimo’s lived looked morally unacceptable to many other communities but it is important for these communities to learn to appreciate other people’s way of life (Benedict 2005).  

How cultural relativism justifies its claims

The different practices and habits are justified by the fact that there exists no standard that can be used to measure what is morally accepted or unacceptable. By the fact that every community is supposed to appreciate and respect other cultures in their diversity an individual lacks the power to question the ongoing practice. Therefore a community’s culture does not pave room for other communities or people to look at them as primitive because to this particular group their practice is morally acceptable and that justifies them. For these reasons the concepts of what is morally wrong or morally right is very different among the diverse communities. Therefore what one community may consider as being an abomination may be what the other community morally accepts and embrace. It is therefore important that these diversities are respected and accepted. Basing on the above explanations it is quite obvious that it may not be possible for different communities to share same ethical ideas (Benedict 2005).   

The two objectives of cultural relativism

One of the main objectives of this theory is to clearly illustrate and explain that differentt cultures do not share the same moral codes. This further explains that what may be considered to be morally acceptable by one community may be unheard of or an abomination to other community. Therefore when one understands the cultural diversities in terms of practices and cultures it becomes easy to understand the meaning of morality. It is therefore evident that a term like universal truth does not exist in moral ethics because what one community believes in may be totally different from what another group strongly holds unto. Therefore what exists in the universe are the customs of numerous societies. Harmony only arises when people learn to appreciate what others practice and believe in. morality can therefore not only be based on what an individual considers to be right because the terms of right and wrong mean different things to different community (Benedict 2005). 

Basing on the two different objectives there are many challenges that arise. For instance people are advised to tolerate other cultural practices. This may not be possible if the portrayed culture is in itself intolerant. On addition, it is not very fair for what is right or wrong to be determined by the norms of the community. This is because some of these norms and cultures are unspeakable like eating the dead body of your father or sharing your women with visitors or other men in the community. Issues about what is culturally acceptable or unacceptable are very complex. Cultural relativism adores tolerance and through this it has easily supported actions which are intolerant like the Second World War.

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