Evaluate Rachel’s arguments against cultural relativism. Is he right to endorse objective moral realism?
DINH NAM TRAN
Cultural relativism, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. “Is the thesis that a person’s culture strongly influences her modes of perception and thought” Most cultural relativists add to this definition saying that there is no standard of morality. This means that morality is relative to the particular society that one lives in. Prominent ethicist James Rachels has written against this view in his work titled The Challenge of Cultural Relativism. This paper will be focused on evaluating Rachels’ critique of cultural relativism, and whether it was right for him to endorse…show more content…
Rachels subtlety uses Nazi Germany as his case in point, which became a slaughter house for any persons with a Jewish belief. This is event was a moral atrocity, it is wrong regardless of the context it happened in. But a true cultural relativist cannot criticize this event, or any similar events, even though it may seem right to criticize the situation if only a little bit. From this, Rachels has strengthened his argument against cultural relativism. This also strengthens Rachels own ideas of objective moral realism. That is a moral objective standard that we can use to differentiate between right and wrong, and in turn we can be critical of other societies.
With an equally strong second argument of logical consequence, Rachels says that “we could decide whether actions are right or wrong just by consulting the standards of our society.” This means that morality is relative to the standards of one’s society; whatever our society says is right or wrong is also right or wrong for us. Because this is the case, one is powerless to make changes to these social norms. Again Rachels gives an effective example of 1975 South Africa and the Apartheid, which was an immobile racist political policy. This sparked significant internal resistance and violence in the nation. Rachels presses on saying that one can see that their society is flawed for it hinders the wellbeing of its people, there are ways for it to be improved. This again strengthens Rachels’ argument for