The challenge of cultural relativism. James Rachels. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press () . What different positions have gone under the name of “cultural relativism”? What does Rachels think is the essence of the theory? Do you find the theory. James Rachels’ essay, The Challenge of Cultural Relativism, is primarily a critique of cultural relativism and, in a way; the writer has put forward.

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The student had learned, however, that the anthropologist is a participant and an observer at the same time, and that our task is to faithfully portray a culture.

Works Cited Gardner, Martin. Ethical Relativism and Universalism. Rachels says nothing about the objectives of anthropology in his essay.

On The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

Cultural Relativism in Social and Political Philosophy categorize this paper. Built on the Rafhels Hopkins University Campus. One cannot deny that Cultural Relativism, as a theory, has given us a lesson for tolerance. These cultural differences are just practices and customs relating to different areas and times and may not be morally right or wrong. Thus, I believe this theory has its importance as well, jzmes usefulness lies in the tolerance that it teaches man.

Hence, we are stuck at the same problem; objectivity or no objectivity. Fill in your details cultjral or click an icon to log in: Cultural Relativism; Perspectives in Cultural Pluralism.


For Rachels, however, differences in the morality or value of customs—the relativity of moral values—become the central problem of cultural relativism Rachels Science Logic and Mathematics.

Underlying his ideas is the suspicion that cultural and moral relativism are a threat Contact Contact Us Help. A Reinterpretation of Peter Winch.

The challenge of cultural relativism

A need for a standard, hence, is vital. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use.

This entry has no external links. Morality and Cultural Differences. Oxford University Press, Firstly, the argument against Cultural Relativism proposes that since different values prevail in different societies there can be no objective standard.

The Problem for Normative Cultural Relativism. Information This entry was posted on March 15, by hadeelnaeem in Philosophy and tagged Cultural Relativism.

This site uses cookies. History of Western Philosophy. You are commenting using your Twitter account. Thus, cultural and moral relativism stand in the way of discovering those universals. Eventually, the writer touched upon the most interesting and pragmatic aspect of the theory.

Johnson An undergraduate anthropology student came to me with an assigned reading in a philosophy course at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

Project MUSE – Cultural Relativism: Interpretations of a Concept

You are commenting using jams WordPress. Finally, from the anthropologist’s point of view, Rachels fails to understand that ethnocentrism governs his understanding of morality.

What he was learning in his philosophy class challenged what he rahels learned about cultural relativism as a core concept in anthropology and he was surprised to find it examined negatively by a philosopher. Finally, having cited several well known examples of customs our society would never condone, such as sharing of wives among some Eskimo, Rachels has one generous thing to say about cultural relativism: Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email.


Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University’s proxy server Configure custom proxy use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy. However, several things soon became clear.

This, however, does not suggest that moral objectivity cannot account for such a tolerance. His essay does not pretend to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject, nor does he indicate anything but a nodding acquaintance with what anthropologists have said about the subject. It is the philosophers from our culture—people like Rachels—not the philosophers of other cultures—who assume the right to pass judgment on other cultures, and decide that some universal standard [End Page ] of morality, yet to be determined, is the real goal.

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