Philosophy Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

According to James Rachels, what lessons can be learned from cultural relativism?

Expert Answers info

Reed Richter eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write2 answers

starTop subject is Literature

According to James Rachels,

Cultural Relativism, as it has been called, challenges our ordinary belief in the objectivity and universality of moral truth. It says, in effect, that 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.

Rachels is a critic of Cultural Relativism (CR). He points out that if CR were true, Americans, living by our different moral codes, could not rationally criticize widely accepted cultural practices such as slavery, anti-Semitism, genital mutilation, racism, denying women the right to vote, or discrimination against LGBT people. According to CR, the rightness or wrongness of such cultural codes can only be judged relative to the codes or norms of the culture in which such practices are embedded: there is no coherent or meaningful transcultural perspective that would justify a claim that such practices are objectively wrong....

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 1,159 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial