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Lecture 24

GOV 312L Lecture 24: Gov312L - The Cultural Relativist Critique – 3.9A

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GOV 312L
Christina Bambrick

Gov312L The Cultural Relativist Critique 3.9A Human rights and cultural relativism No universal agreement about the foundation of human rights o Wide variety of justifications o Is this variety useful when arguing for human rights? Western values inconsistent with local values leads some to question the universality of human rights Cultural relativism: the view that ethics develop within a particular social context o Because social contexts are distinct from one another, there cannot be a moral or ethical framework that applies in all contexts o Ethics and moral values are specific to particular social or cultural milieu There is no objective basis for morals or rights depends on the culture you are talking about o Means it is difficult to apply same values to a variety of cultures Theoretical dimensions of cultural relativism Origins in western enlightenment, human rights clash with nonwestern cultures Autonomous individuals vs. group or community o Rights presuppose an autonomus individual Doesnt make sense bc individuals are rooted in a group and are influenced by their community Glendon: individuals live in a community; rights talk is too individualistic Adversarial vs. consensual modes of resolving conflict o Ppl are often too adversarial: your right against mine o Rather than this discourse ^, some countries have judicial systems more based on consent Rationalistic vs. traditional beliefs and practices o If rights are rooted in Kantian nationality, does that leave room for peoples goals? Modern, bureaucratic state vs. relationship between individual and society Critique of Cultural Relativist Critique Is cultural relativism selfdefeating? o Relativism itself is a universal claim Imposition of values also selfdefeating o Seems to require the imposition of toleration o They say every cultural has own traditions, values, etc. but also promote their own values, such as toleration Human rights not only a product of the West o West John Locke, Kant, etc. o Other countries also impacted UDHR Egypt, India, etc. Introduced antidiscrimination and gender inclusive language in UDHR
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