EMERGING REALITIES AND THEIR IMPACT ON CULTURAL VALUES AND IDENTITY 59 that no one way recommends itself as the only adequate human way or even the best possible way.” (Smith 1991, 307). As we recognize the right of each people and cultural community to affirm and preserve its cultural identity and have it respected by others, they must also recognize the equality and dignity of all cultures. No culture should dominate and dictate others, and no culture should regard others as inferior to other cultures. No culture can claim that it is the universal culture and therefore must be followed by others. Cultural pluralism is the recognition and respect for the different cultures of the world (Aguas 2003, 111).
In each culture there are moral values which may not be considered the same for other cultures. Such differences may suggest that morality is only a question of cultural taste and that there are no universal moral principles, which brings us to the important ethical concept of "ethical relativism". Cultural relativism is the theory that morality is relative to the norms of its culture. Whether an action is good or bad depends on the moral standards that are practical in this society. An action that is morally right in one society may not be in another.
To add with, cultural relativists also believe that there do not exists a universal evaluative grading standard to measure the value of culture due to the differences among them; therefore, no culture can be judged by the standard of other groups. Customs and behaviors of different societies are rational and reasonable in their own terms. All cultures should be viewed as equally able to fulfill the needs of their members. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2010, p. 876) According to cultural relativism, a custom or a thought within a certain society cannot be simply judged as right or wrong, superior or inferior. For instance, a great number of Inuit groups leave their aging parents who are too old to shoulder their share of the workload out
Cultural relativism has a variety of definitions, but the main idea is that a universal code of ethics does not exist--it varies culture to culture. Rachel’s examines cultural relativism in “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism” and argues that there are commonalities of ethics throughout every culture. Rachels sections off his argument to better explain what they believe. In this piece, they argue that cultural relativism is not a proper theory. They argue that it has many major flaws, but they acknowledge that parts of theory have some truth to it.
Cultural relativism, in its most absolute form, is defined as culture being the “sole source of validity of a moral right or rule” (Donnelly, 1984). Such an extreme notion of cultural relativity may sometimes result in the infringement of individual human rights and fundamental freedoms. On the other hand, absolute universalism holds that culture is irrelevant to the validity of moral rights and rules. According to Article 4 of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, cultural diversity presupposes the respect for human rights. “The defence of cultural diversity is an ethical imperative, inseparable from respect for human dignity.
Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism are opposite viewpoints of one subject, culture. When a culture tries to evaluate another culture based on a singular viewpoint it is known as ethnocentrism. But cultures can be evaluated using individual standards since there is not one set of standards that culture fits into. I realize that most people agree with the concept of cultural relativism but there are some problems. According to an article by Henry H. Bagish entitled Confessions of a Former Cultural Relativist, states that cultural relativism can cause people to justify immoral and unjustifiable actions.
Culture is what ignites what can be defined as good or bad, what is immoral or moral in a society. These views of normal actions and abnormal actions differ from culture to culture. Cultural relativism is therefore considered verification that these societies vary in their moral codes, standards, and laws of society. It is considered that morality is dependent on a culture. which brings forth the idea that since there are diverse cultures there is also diversification in what is considered right or wrong in every society, mainly to events and
that values differ with cultures.” Due to the effect of changing moral values, one cannot deny the value that another believes to be true. As stated before, the culture that allows people to commit child scarification believes it to be a morally good thing since it serves as a form of faith to God. Although the practice may sound morally wrong for another culture, denying one’s culture only perceives that the other culture is morally right. Also if one does not abide by their value, then one will feel as if they feel they are committing a wrong act. Values are changing, not only through cultures, but also in time.
Therefore, a heated discussion has begun in academic circle. Whether there exists an agreement on evaluative standard that can be applied in all societies is still a question. The conflict between universalism and cultural relativism remains unsolved