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Lecture 4

PHIL 1320 Lecture 4: PHIL 10-12-17

2 Pages
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Department
Philosophy
Course Code
Philosophy PHIL 1320
Professor
Jonathan Surovell

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Cultural Relativism
THE BIG QUESTION
Are right and wrong relative to cultures?
ETHICAL RELATIVISM
>”Each culture is self-contained, autonomous, separate but equal”
(Rosaldo 2015)
>Cultures are incommensurable: There is no scale, going from excellent to
terrible, of human cultures.
UNIVERSALISM
>There are substantive cultural universals
>“To replace… relativism, Kluckhohn proposed a set of ethical and cultural
universals that, to my ear, are surprisingly void of content. He [discussed
the ] example [of] two Native American groups: the Kwakiutl of the
Northwest Coast, whose culture encourages exhibitionism and the Zuni of
the Southwest, who by contrast prize restrant. These are really different
ways of giving meaning to one’s life… To Kluckhohn, this vast difference
revealed a universal-prizing the norms of one’s culture” (Rosaldo 2015;
emphasis added).
>What is meant by a “universal” in this passage
>You should study and learn from other cultures, and participating in a
different form of life does not make someone deranged or evil.
>Note the contrast with ethical relativism
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Description
Cultural Relativism THE BIG QUESTION Are right and wrong relative to cultures? ETHICAL RELATIVISM >Each culture is self-contained, autonomous, separate but equal (Rosaldo 2015) >Cultures are incommensurable: There is no scale, going from excellent to terrible, of human cultures. UNIVERSALISM >There are substantive cultural universals >To replace relativism, Kluckhohn proposed a set of ethical and cultural universals that, to my ear, are surprisingly void of content. He [discussed the ] example [of] two Native American groups: the Kwakiutl of the Northwest Coast, whose culture encourages exhibitionism and the Zuni of the Southwest, who by contrast prize restrant. These are really different ways of giving meaning to ones life To Kluckhohn, this vast difference revealed a universal-prizing the norms of ones culture (Rosaldo 2015; emphasis added). >What is meant by a universal in this passage >You should study and learn from other cultures, and participating in a different form of life does not make someone deranged or evil. >Note the contrast with ethical relativism WHY SHOULD WE LEARN ABOUT OTHER CULTURES? >Doing so can expand the discussion of concepts we think are important (Rosaldo 2015) >Examples: - Love
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