What does Moral Relativism have to do with Cultural Relativism?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The critical connection between both is the absence of "absolutes."  Cultural relativism concerns the idea of being unable to pass judgments on cultures because cultures are seen as relative.  Within all cultures are some level of morals or moral structure, and whether or not there are absolutes within such a moral standing is where there are questions.  Both concepts are driven by the idea that morals and cultural expressions are relative.  This means that we can assess and understand such expressions, but are unable to pass judgments as to which ones are superior or which practices are inferior.  In both, the standard of relativism guides the understandings in both.  Culture and morals are linked to one another. In another sense, one can make the argument that moral relativism helps to facilitate cultural relativism.  If one can make the argument that moral relativism prevents the idea of absolute judgments being made, then one can parlay this into the idea that cultures cannot be seen as superior or inferior.  Though it is not as widely accepted as it used to be, both notions of relativism are steeped in the idea of tolerance and inclusivity.

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