Ruth Benedict's Theory Of Moral Cultural Relativism

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Moral Cultural Relativism is based on the belief that there is no universal morality, it is based entirely on the traditions of the culture one lives in. This is a subject that is up for debate amongst philosophers. While there can never be a definite conclusion either way, many people have strong opinions on what they feels is the right form of relativism. Ruth Benedict’s theory of moral relativism is based in the common practices and beliefs of cultures. She describes morality as something that is wholly individual to cultures, and which cannot be criticized by members of other cultures. Pojman does not agree with Benedict’s views of morality. He claims that if morality is relative then it may as well be made up (p.165). Because their beliefs …show more content…
She could not decide whether it was right or wrong based on the actions alone, because they are not contextualized. Even if she believes that the action would be wrong if it was committed in her own culture, she will not condemn a member of another culture for the same action, if it is acceptable to their people. According to Benedict, “normality is culturally defined.” (p.136) In Benedict’s view, the way that people see moral issues is shaped by the traditions of their society. She argues that these habits are what morality is defined by, not any overlying truths. There are cultures that are based on moral principles that are typically rejected as abnormal in western cultures. One example she gives of this is the behavior of the people who live on an island northwest of Melanesia. These people distrust everyone, and everyone must fend for themselves. They have built a society around mutual distrust, which is almost unfathomable for someone who lives in a culture where they are taught to trust, and be trustworthy. (p.134) Benedict’s decision as to whether it would be “right” or “wrong” for a group to sneak up behind someone and attack them for the fun of it could not be made until she had determined the cultural traditions of the society in which this incident …show more content…
He takes an objectivist stance, he believes that there are some things that are always wrong. One example he uses as something that is always wrong is “to torture people for the fun of it” (p.177). Pojman will not have to consider outside evidence, he believes that a group of people sneaking up on someone and beating them up just for the fun of it is wrong, no matter what their cultures believes about it. Pojman’s argument is rooted in core morality, and it’s necessity for people to live a good life. These principles are basic examples of things that he, and many others, consider to always be right. They include not killing innocent people, telling the truth, and obeying just laws. (p.178) These principles are things that improve society, and improve the lives of the people living in those societies. Pojman also mentions the connection of morality and the promotion of pleasure over pain. (p.182) For these reasons, Pojman will never concede to Benedict’s views of morality, and he will not be convinced that beating someone up just for fun can be considered

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