Cultural Relativism Essay

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Cultural Relativism The theory of cultural relativism suggests that there is no absolute right or wrong. Instead, the morals, beliefs and behaviours that vary throughout different cultures must be taken into consideration. This idea is based on the principle that no one culture can define the basics of living for any or all other cultures. People frequently pass judgment about others based on their own cultural standards, this can result in discrimination, prejudice, hurt and/or injury and is the reason why cultural relativism should be avoided at all costs. Franz Boas an early 20th century scientist, introduced the notion of cultural relativism when, in his early years of work, he realised that bias, prejudice and bigotry was becoming a pandemic amongst many anthropologists. He sought a way to remove this clouded judgment from scientific studies and teach others that each society is the product of a unique history, environment and set of circumstances. All cultures from around the world have a mixture of different qualities, because of this everyone is encouraged to accept that no one culture is superior to any others and all beliefs are equally valid. Individuals are encouraged to move outside the familiar boundaries of their own day to day experience and look outside their culture to appreciate the world beyond their own. Although, whenever an unusual cultural practice is encountered the first reaction is disbelief and rejection. Negative reactions like this mean we can not effectively understand what we are experiencing. Philosopher John Cook observed that cultural relativism "Is aimed at getting people to admit that although it may seem to them that their moral principles are self-evidently true, and hence seem to be grounds for passing judgement on other people, in fact, the self-evidence of these principles is a kind of illusion". Once it is realised

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