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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Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. Interpretations of a Concept. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Questions about why certain customs continue to be practiced and transmitted to each generation, or even whether those customs fit into the fabric of the society are never discussed.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Thus, cultural and moral relativism stand in the way of discovering those universals. Thus, I believe this theory has its importance as well, its usefulness lies in the tolerance that it teaches man. Eventually, the writer touched upon the most interesting and pragmatic aspect of the theory. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.


Oxford University Press, Sign in to use this feature. Defence of Cultural Relativism. Science Logic and Mathematics. That’s part of what I told my student as we discussed Rachels’ cultral. Cook – – Oxford University Press.

On The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

For Rachels, however, differences in the morality or value of customs—the relativity of moral values—become the central problem of cultural relativism Rachels For instance, the covering of breasts with a scarf is part of some cultures and is not really important for other cultures. Rachels says nothing rdlativism the objectives of anthropology in his essay. Moreover, the writer pointed out that even experience can tell us hcallenge Cultural Relativism is not quite the case; he based this particular argument on the tinges of moral objectivity that we see amidst the tje differences in values.

Cultural Relativism and Philosophy: This article has no associated abstract. What, exactly, was wrong with what James Rachels said about cultural relativism? Contact Contact Us Help. From an anthropologist’s point of view, the most serious flaw in Rachel’s notion that cultural relativism presents a “challenge” to philosophy is that he simply hasn’t done his homework, and knows little about anthropology or its central purpose—to understand and learn about the variety of human cultures, past and present.

James Rachels: The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

The fallacy in the argument is that the conclusion does not follow from this premise. It would have been helpful if another philosopher had presented an anthropologist’s view of cultural relativism, but fairness was not the textbook’s objective.


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

Request removal from index. What he was learning in his philosophy class challenged what he had learned about cultural relativism as ths core concept relatifism anthropology and he was surprised to find it examined negatively by a philosopher. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: An anthropologist would have asked different kinds of questions: One cannot deny that Cultural Relativism, as a theory, has given us a lesson for tolerance.

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Rachels’ essay was chosen to represent the ethical issue of cultural relativism in an introductory textbook on ethics.