Culture Relativism states that we cannot absolute say what is right and what is wrong because it all depends in the society we live in. James Rachels however. James Rachels summarizes the former theory into one brief statement: “Different cultures have different moral codes.” (Rachels, 18) Ethical relativism. Cultural Relativism. Morality differs in every society, and is a convenient term for socially approved habits. Ruth Benedict, PATTERNS OF CULTURE ().

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I believe, further, that modern international moral affirmations, such as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, support my position.

One example Benedict uses is that of an island of northwest Melanesia. They are often, as Benedict claims, simply due to habits that have evolved over time to embody the specific culture in which they are conducted.

In the second example, he states that cultural relativism supports the notion that because there relativismm differing opinions on the morality of infanticide, that there is again no true objectively moral action with regard to killing babies. For instance, ravhels insociologist William Graham Sumner, affirmed: As time goes on, certain actions begin to become congenial, and others, uncongenial. The fact is that one of the societies may simply be mistaken. Instead, he believes that all cultures have some values in common—that there is less disagreement among cultures than it seems.

Cultural Relativism: James Rachels vs. Ruth Benedict | Gordon Hemsley –

It does not, however, indicate a lack of cultural relativism, as the simple need to conduct infanticide in order to survive may be exclusive to the Eskimo culture. There are definitely universal moral codes that underlie all of the human cultures around the world, as Rachels claims. Right and wrong are only matters of opinion, and opinions vary from culture to culture. Remember me on this computer. Both Rachels and Benedict use a plethora of examples to support their analyses.


Hemsley Long Paper Prof. Each culture hames its own individual methods to ensure its survival that are not based on any particular tie to the entire human race or its morals, as they are on environmental factors racbels interactions with other cultures.

According to Benedict, all cultures and their people start out with a persuasion in one direction of moral standards.

The two similar theories describe the moral, ethical, and societal differences that diverse cultures experience. He had no desire to mask his true personality and conform to the tendencies of his culture. There, it was customary to respond to a death of a person by killing another person. Not every culture has a reason to believe that their fellow members are out to poison them with black magic.

Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link. Benedict is even more correct in her analysis of the differences among cultures. According to Locke, the duties of parents to their children and their authority over them cease when the children become adults.

With the possible exception of the proper treatment of dead bodies, all of the examples cited by both Rachels and Benedict show members of a particular culture performing actions or following certain rules in a method consistent with the belief that doing so will keep the culture moving in a positive direction. Benedict has the opposing viewpoint that the rachsls and ethics of cultures are, in fact, relative.


Similarly, there is no reason to think that if there is moral truth everyone must know it. Further, in that customs often differ from culture to culture, so right and wrong differ, and jqmes is no objective, universally applicable moral law. James Rachels summarizes the former theory into one brief statement: There is no way, on the other hand, to scientifically prove in and of themselves, not with relation to the environment or any other external factor whether cremation or cannibalization is morally better, or whether infanticide is morally right.

Cultural Relativism

Rachels translates cultural relativism into the fact moral ethics are not universal—they are simply a matter of opinion that differs from culture to culture. While it would be considered morally repugnant in our society to feel good after completing such an endeavor, those involved in the war party and the killings felt good upon their return to Sebaa.

They may be exempt from prosecution because they have conformed to custom and possibly law. For example, we would not be able to condemn cultures that enslave people or that commit genocide. He did not run around killing people at random, as may be expected by someone of Western culture.

Quoted by Rachels in Shipka and Minton, p. The people there believe that everyone else is using black magic to poison them.