James Rachels's Theory Of Cultural Relativism

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Cultural relativism may be defined as a theory that advocates the idea of subjective morality. To extrapolate, this theory entails that “different cultures have differing moral codes” and these variances are merely arbitrary. Although this is a seemingly sufficient theory, there are key issues with this school of thought. James Rachels suggests several issues with accepting cultural relativism. He criticizes cultural relativism by stating that the theory is absurd as it entails severe consequences if practiced. Furthermore, when challenged by the cultural relativist, he deftly rebuts by citing the principle of explosion.
To begin, one of Rachels’ strongest arguments against cultural relativism utilizes the reductio ad absurdum strategy. First,
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Ethical subjectivism is the idea that morality is not dependent on one’s culture; rather, that morality is just a matter of self interested power. For example, Ted Bundy, an American serial killer, was known to be charismatic, attractive and appealing to his victims. In an interview before his execution, Bundy stated that “[he] knew it was wrong to think about it, and certainly, to do it was wrong;” however, he proceeded to murder, decapitate and rape his victims. Bundy is a prime example of ethical subjectivism. How is it possible for a set of standards to be universal for all of man, if people who acknowledge and understand societal norms still decide to disobey them? This is where Rachels’ reasoning falls short. If morality is supposedly based on some sort of nomenclature, the only way to accommodate for all of mankind’s variances is to assume that one’s morality is just a matter of one’s own desires. Thus, in rebuttal, cultural relativists may submit to the consequences that Rachel has outlined, but advocate the theory of ethical …show more content…
In reference to the principle of explosion, which states that from a falsehood, anything can be proven to be true, cultural relativism contradicts the laws of logic. If one accepts cultural relativism, technically anything can be proven as true, which is preposterous. For instance, consider the statement that genocide is justifiable or dogs have 9 legs. The second must be true since the first part is true. However, if genocide were unjustifiable, which is also correct, that would prove that dogs actually have 9 legs. Thus, it is not possible for a subject and its negation to be true. Hence, cultural relativism is fallacious as it is logically

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