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Ralph Allen M. RayosCornell NotesPHILO 23 B3-Philosophy of EthicsThe Challenge of Cultural RelativismRuth Benedict, Patterns of Culture (1934)1stReading Material on EthicsClassMr. Derrick Bart PimentelFebruary 14, 2022TOPIC DESCRIPTIONLEARNINGS/KEY POINTS2.1 Different CulturesHave Different MoralCodes-The difference of cultures between the Greeks and theCallatians when it comes to their dead fathers, the Greekspractice cremation and regarded the funeral pyre to disposethe dead while the Callatians eat the bodies of their deadfathers. The story goes on and, in the court, where Dariusinvited two parties, he asked on what would they do if theirpractice would to do something that opposite to it (i.e., theCallatians would burn dead bodies and the Greeks would eatthe dead bodies) both parties didn’t likeit.-The Eskimos has different cultural practice too, in terms ofmarriage, they would have more than one wife, and theywould share their wives with guest for one night as a sign ofhospitality.-A dominant male would get all his demands includingsexual access to other men’s wives. But, the women are freeto break these customs by leaving their husbands.-The Eskimos cared less of human life, Infanticide wascommon to them. They would leave a feeble man or womenin snow to die, showing no respect for human life.-We find these practices unacceptable simply because it doesnot conform to our usual, rightfully done, practices. Wethink of the Eskimos as being“primitive” or “backward”.-But perceptions of right and wrong differ from culture toculture. If assume that everyone shares our values, then weare merely being naïve.2.2 Cultural Relativism-“Different cultures have different moral codes-seems likethe key to understanding morality.-There are no universal truths, they say; the customs ofdifferent societies are all that exist.-To call a custom“correct” or “incorrect” would imply thatwe can judge it by some independent standard of right andwrong. But, in fact, we would merely be judging it by thestandards of our own culture.-No independent standard exist; every standard is culture-bound.-This line of thought, more than any other, has persuadedpeople to be skeptical of ethics.
Challenge of culturalrelativism-Cultural relativism says that there is no such thing asuniversal truth-Cultural relativism challenges our belief in the objectivityand legitimacy of moral truth.Claims of by culturalrelativist-1.) Different societies have different moral codes.-2.) The moral code of a society determines what is rightwithin that society; that is, if the moral code of a society saysthat a certain action is right, then that action is right, at leastwithin that society.(The heart of the Cultural Relativism,but it is in conflict with the fifth claim.)-3.) There is no objective standard that can be used to judgeone society’s code as better than another’s. There are nomoral truths that hold for all people at all times.

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