realitybites (13041)

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Journal of realitybites (13041)

Saturday February 02, 08


03:20 PM

Question: "What is cultural relativism?"

Answer: Cultural Relativism is a philosophy that believes that when it comes to matters of right and wrong, and other values of a moral nature, that there are no absolutes, or any fixed truth, but rather that all is relative. "Good" and "bad" are merely assigned and psycho-emotively attached to beliefs and actions by the culture in which one lives. Good is simply what is socially approved of in that culture by the majority over time and is therefore a matter of social convention. What constitutes something being considered bad, or even evil, is therefore also culturally relative. Therefore no belief or action is inherently good or bad, rather it is either acceptable or taboo within that given culture, and thus we should all therefore learn to be "tolerant", suspending personal judgment, because the real issue isn't goodness or badness per se, but simply a matter of difference.

Today's cultural relativist would say that even though the killing of newborns, or pre-born human children, is still considered to be somewhat bad here, in other cultures it is perfectly acceptable, and is even considered to be good in some, and therefore it is not inherently bad or evil. Therefore we also, allegedly being enlightened, should consider it a matter of personal choice or cultural norm, in the name of tolerance of all views.

Under the banner of cultural relativism anything goes--live and let live. There are no moral standards. My morals are no better than those of a suicide bomber.

If you accept this, then you should not feel outraged by what you see in this video:

The Violent Oppression of Women in Islam

Warning this video is horribly graphic.

Recently, award winning British author, Martin Amis, at a debate at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, requested this of his audience: Put your hands up, said Amis, if you think you are morally superior to the Taliban. When a minority of the audience did so, Amis muttered: 'About 30 per cent…' His implication is that, in our current relativistic climate, it is taboo to assert your superiority to anything – even the Taliban. Anyone who values freedom, Amis says, should have a problem with Islamism. He graphically went through some of the feudal punishments that the Taliban metes out to women who step out of line. 'We're in a pious paralysis when we can't say we're morally superior to the Taliban', he said. His attack on cultural relativism is welcome, and it certainly exposed moral sheepishness amongst the assembled at the ICA.

If this audience were to see the video I posted, prior to being asked this question, do you think they would have answered differently?

Cultural relativism has a sister e.g. moral relativism. It basically asserts the same thing e.g. that morals cannot be judged by any objective standards. There are no absolute truths or universal laws.

If you refuse to accept relativism and you decide to speak out against human rights abuses, then you have chosen the more righteous path. Tolerance is not always a virtue. There is nothing good about accepting cultural practices that violate the rights of human beings. Sometimes it is better to be intolerant. Speak up. Don't stay silent.

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