Medical Ethics Darin Harootunian 9/23/11 1 “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism,” James Rachels What is cultural relativism? Notice that what is meant by ‘cultural relativism’ is cultural moral relativism. Rachels never provides a precise, succinct statement of cultural moral relativism. Before we attempt to formulate our own statement of it, let’s see how Rachels characterizes the view. He identifies six claims that have been made by cultural relativists about morality: 1. Different societies have different moral codes. 2. There is no objective standard that can be used to judge one societal code better than another. 3. The moral code of our own society has no special status; it is merely one among many. 4. There is no "universal truth" in ethics; that is, there are no moral truths that hold for all peoples at all times. 5. The moral code of a society determines what is right within that society; that is, if the moral code of a society says that a certain action is right, then that action is right, at least within that society. 6.
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