Relativism refers to a philosophical theory that explains the subject circumstance of all morals in the world. This entails the principle that knowledge, morality as well as truth occur due to relation in a specific society, historical content or a particular culture which are not absolute. What can be morally right for a specific individual believing in a certain culture, historical content or society is absolutely morally right to another person with a different believe. Therefore, the wrongness or correctness of something depends on what our government, culture or religion indicates to be.
Cultural relativism claims that the society that one lives in determines the moral norms of that particular individual. For example, there exists many traditions which were practiced in past cultures such as foot-binding among the Chinese people where they viewed the tradition as an acceptable as well as a rightful cultural practice (Demuijnck, 2015). However, the western people now view it as sick cultural practice. As according to the relativist aspects of life, since they considered the practice to be right, then they should also consider it to be right in the modern life. These differences therefore give rise to both values as well as limits of relativism.
Cultural relativism fashions learning opportunities upon an individual thus making humanity stronger. When two or more differences associated with cultural practices come together as people, the differences tend to build an individual’s knowledge. Without limiting people to set settle all their personal standards at any level, stronger potential bonds are created assisting to achieve certain knowledge hence becoming more than we previously were before allowing our variances to tutor one another. For example, different philosophers engage in justifying the moral practices as explained in cultural relativism whereby different opinions are generated regarding relativism hence increasing their knowledge about the cultural practices.
However, the practices are either valid or invalid as per each of the philosophers’ cultural practice, society or his/her historical contents. After exploring their best personal thinking without limits at any level, the difference in correctness or wrongness of the action is determined by the societal concept, culture or even the historical value that governs each of the philosophers.
Elimination of the idea of diverse qualities is warranted by cultural relativism but replaced with equal principles between people of diverse cultures. When majority of people share similar principles, they are enabled to create a society that only meets their own needs while in turn neglecting the requirement of other people who pertains a different cultural practice. Therefore, considering cultural relativism tends to bring together people with diverse cultural practices where equal practices pertaining the difference in cultural or societal values are addressed. An example involves philosophical work by Wong (1984: ch. 12) describing the history of civil rights movement that was carried out in United States, through women’s suffrage efforts, and also movements of same sex marriages (Sawrikar, 2016). Cultural relativism therefore would base equality among all these people’s rights thereby diminishing the movements since the separateness has been removed and replaced with equal principles to the diverse cultures.
Cultural relativism therefore forms systems of role expertise towards performing a specific value. This is because people will tend to focus on areas where they are best in rather than trying to improve weakness points. The fact being that someone’s weakness is another’s strength, every individual is geared towards making efforts to obtain the best in area of participation but instead leaves the person’s weakness unsolved. This further encourages the person’s respect unto the fellow community members in which they are in diverse cultural beliefs.
The perspectives in providing humanity by the diverse cultural values ensured through relativism contribute to better good in a specific action thereby basing the foundation of respect as a result of success in that specific area. An example by philosophers entails participation in a particular practice such as religion, straining on the best perspectives to ensure humanity and finally ensuring equality such as in workplace finally results in respect that is founded as a result of ensuring equality practices in the workplace. In such a scenario, philosophers illustrate the respected work of anthropologists who strive to be impartial and at the same time unprejudiced in operation of their anthropolinguistic activities.
However, despite the interpersonal benefits ensured by cultural relativism, it also embraces numerous disadvantages. For example, some actions carried out in particular culture are either defined to be violent, wrong or even unsafe to another cultural value of the involved individual. Philosophers explain this principle when someone tends to perform actions that are considered to be wrong in the society by the majority of people as a result of the freedom in establishing their own moral code of conduct. Such actions disregarded by most community members are like murder, rape, theft or even child abuse. Some cultures values will therefore illustrate these actions to be wrong when another particular culture upholds it to be right.
Perfection principles upon individuals of a particular culture are created, this contradicts the fact that human beings are fond of making mistakes. This is too way far from the truth since human actions aren’t perfect, that finally leads to personal bias. In this scenario, personal bias is met as a result of shifting group responsibility outlooks to an individual based strategy in order to ensure perfect humanity. Martha Nussbaum (1993) with clear orientation to Aristotle contends that individual consideration of human decent is the measure of perfection hence making people across different cultures to transform group orientated functions to be individual targets of life which first forces people to step down in order to raise the others.
Also, elimination of the impression that personal change or reform is a good thing is enabled. Most of greatest philosophers as well as teachers end up being considered as wrong by the system of cultural relativism. If they would have known to finally be wrong therefore founds the ideas that their change towards exploring their actions was wrong since everyone’s hearts and minds is tied their own standards (Velleman, 2015). These conflicting ideas are explained by Isaiah Berlin (1998) by arguing that even there exists some universal moral standards, there are still many conflicting objective values which are incommensurable with each other.
Bernard Williams (1981 and 1985: ch. 9) proposes an argument on notional confrontation about impropriation to describe a specific outlook pertaing a specific culture, society or historical consent to be just or unjust. However, cultural relativism communicates about broad-mindedness in an individual but its theory is founded on the awareness that all human actions are perfect. It is yet for human actions to be right, maybe it may help in the future but not today. This becomes the potential harm for the idea since only God is perfect, and neither human knowledge nor actions are superior than His deeds.