Stockhold1E - Stockhold1E 09/20/2009 CULTURAL RELATIVISM...

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Stockhold1E 09/20/2009 CULTURAL RELATIVISM “For if anyone, no matter who, were given the opportunity of choosing from amongst all the nations of the world the set of beliefs which he thought best, he would inevitably, after careful consideration of their relative merits, choose that of his own country. Everyone without exception believes his own native customs, and the religion he was brought up in, to be the best.”-Herodotus Cultural relativism is a philosophical idea or theory that holds that the determination of “right” and “wrong” is based on the views of a person’s culture. “According to cultural relativism (CR), it is never true to say simply that a certain kind of behavior is right or wrong; rather, it can only ever be true that a certain kind a behavior is right or wrong relative to a specified society.” (WWW.PhilosophyofReligion.info). Over the course of this essay, I will explain Cultural relativism, provide examples of the theory from different points of view, and determine whether or not this theory is in fact valid from the logical standpoint. Cultural Relativism (CR), states that different societies have different moral codes. Absolutely. This statement is true. Throughout the course of history, human societies have sprung up around the world spawning traditions, customs and laws that vary from place to place. This is what it means to be part of a certain culture. Culture is defined in the Philosophy Dictionary as ”The way of life of a people, including their attitudes, values, beliefs, arts, sciences, modes of perception, and habits of thought and activity. Cultural features of forms of life are learned but are often too pervasive to be
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readily noticed from within.” There are many anthropologists and sociologists who feel that it is important to understand patterns of behavior within a given society, which they feel is relevant and sacred to humanity as a whole. In 1946, Talcott Parsons, a sociologist from Harvard came up with a theory of social action, which he called "structural functionalism." Parsons theory was based on people and why they do the things they do. These are the three of the four points in his system 1) The "behavioral system" of biological needs 2) The "personality system" of an individual's characteristics affecting their functioning in the social world 3) The "social system" of patterns of units of social interaction, especially social status and role of the "cultural system" of norms and values that regulate social action symbolically. (Parsons) If we break down these definitions and structure of what cultural behavior is, then we see how the theory of cultural relativism can actually make sense. Take the first rule in
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This note was uploaded on 02/17/2010 for the course PHI 112 taught by Professor Camp during the Fall '08 term at Front Range Community College.

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Stockhold1E - Stockhold1E 09/20/2009 CULTURAL RELATIVISM...

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