James Rachels Essay

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James Rachels’ on Normative Cultural Relativism Every culture has its own customs, traditions and beliefs that dictate the actions of its citizens. Cultural relativism states that although practices and ethical beliefs differ from society to society, it must be accepted as good, relative to each respective culture’s beliefs and moral code. Rachels believes that an act that may be frowned upon in one culture may in fact be totally acceptable in another. The theory of Cultural Relativism puts in action the idea of what people believe is morally right and how it relates to the culture that it is practiced in. Morals concern what is right and wrong. Right and wrong usually vary depending on what is normal in a specific culture or society. Many people would agree that what is “right” is moral, but it is James Rachels that explores what makes something right. Rachels argues that it is the cultural normality’s of a society itself, that makes an action morally right, while others would disagree and claim that there is a set of “universal moral codes” that people should live by. In different societies and cultures what is morally right and wrong can be determined only within the individual mind of a person. Rachels identifies six basic claims made cultural relativists in order to understand the basic idea of the cultural relativist theory: “1) Different societies have different moral codes. 2) There is no objective standard that can be used to judge one societal code better than another. 3) The moral code of our own society has no special status; it is merely one among many. 4) There is no “universal truth”, no moral truths that hold for all peoples at all times. 5) The moral code of a society determines what is right within that society; that is, if the moral code of a society says that a certain action is right, then that action is right, at least within that society. 6)
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