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Philosophy 2070E Lecture Notes - Anxiety, In Re Kasinga, Universal Declaration Of Human Rights

Course Code
PHIL 2070E

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EMP Ch 2
Cultural Relativism
2.1 Different Cultures Have Different Moral Codes
Darius King of Persia: Callatains ate the bodies of their dead
fathers and the Greeks burned their fathers. Both viewed the
actions of the other as atrocious
Eskimos: men often had more than one wife, share wives with
guests as a sign of hospitality, women free to break marriage
agreements, infanticide was common practice, elderly left to die.
Concepts of right and wrong are different from culture to culture
2.2 Cultural Relativism
To say that a custom is “correct” or “incorrect” would imply that
we can judge that custom by some independent standard of right
and wrong. No such standard exists.
Some argue that what is “right” is because it is tradition carried
down by ancestors.
Cultural relativism challenges the objectivity and universality of
moral truth
oDifferent societies have different moral codes
Some values are shared by all cultures
Underlying differences may be due to external
factors vs different values
oMoral codes of a society determine what is right within that
is stoning to death of a Nigerian woman who had sex
out of wedlock right
lashes for girl gang raped in Saudi since she was
alone with someone other than her husband?
oThere is no objective standard to be used to judge one
societies moral code as superior to another’s
Do policies and practice promote or hinder
The UDHR can be used as a authoritative standard
for human rights since countries signed up for it
oThe moral code of our society has no special status
oIt is ignorant of us to judge other cultures, we should be
tolerant of them
Human societies have done terrible things and it is a
mark of society that we can look at those things and
put them in the past
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