Ruth Benedict And Rdquo Analysis

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Critique of Ruth Benedict’s, “A Defense of Moral Relativism” Extra Credit I PHL 142-875 Susan Phelps July 30, 2009 Susan Phelps Critique of Ruth Benedict’s, “A Defense of Moral Relativism” In the article, “A Defense of Moral Relativism”, Ruth Benedict, an anthropologist, defends the concept of Moral Relativism. The major theme in this article was that morality is culturally relative. Moral relativism is the position that moral or ethical positions do not reflect objective or moral truths, but instead make claims…show more content…
When a Kwakiutl chief’s sister and her daughter were presumed dead after not returning from a trip to Victoria, the chief gathered together his warriors. Collectively, they determined that some of the tribe would be required to ‘wail” die, to remediate the chief’s loss. The warriors then formed a war party, and killed seven men and children whom they discovered sleeping. Not only were these individuals innocent of any involvement in the disappearance, they were not even aware of the chief’s loss. After committing these murders, the warriors “felt good” (140), believing they had successfully wiped out the affront against their tribal chief. Benedict argues that since within their society it was considered moral, even morally acceptable, to commit such murders, the fact that within most other societies such actions are deemed abnormal and immoral, is relevant. New Concepts One of the new concepts for which I gained enlightenment on is that on ethnocentrism. Benedict says this is done when one culture uses the standards of their own culture to evaluate their subjects study. The definition of ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s own ethnic group or culture is superior (488). Personal Reaction I believe that there are certainly moral judgments which vary from culture to culture, as well as those which shift as a particular culture evolves, by no means does this imply that morality is culturally relative.

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