Cultural Relativism: Should Society and Sociologist Strive for Cultural Relativism?

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Definition of Cultural Relativism

Cultural Relativism, as it has been called, challenges our ordinary belief in the objectivity and universality of moral truth. There is no such thing as universal truth in ethics: there are only the various cultural codes, and nothing more. Moreover, our own code has no special status; it is merely one among many. Each society has traits and customs that make it different from any other. Every society has their own way of looking at and dealing with certain situations. Different societies have different moral codes.

Cultural Relativism in actual practice

Cultural Relativists argue that it is the cultural normality's of a society itself that makes an action morally right. Morality is subject to change over time, for example, in the southern United States slavery is now viewed as immoral, when only a few hundred years ago, it was not. Therefore there are no objective or absolute moral standards that apply to all cultures and people at all times.

According to Ruth Benedict (1934) an anthropologist and supporter of cultural relativism. In conclusion to her observations of various people, she argued that "normality is relative to culture, morally good is synonymous with normal, and therefore morality is relative to culture." Morality must be considered relative to the goals, wants, beliefs, history, and environment of the society in question. Even though individual beliefs may originate from personal experience, there are common social rules, values, customs, and habits that have gained social approval over the years, so that they have become part of the norm or the nature of things. Therefore, since morality is based on society and different societies have different views of right and wrong and proves once again there can be no moral absolutes. Since there are no absolutes, under this view of cultural...