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Explain cultural relativism in terms of the claims it makes about the possibility of objective moral truth. ?

Identify and explain two problems with the cultural relativist’s argument.

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  • j153e
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Generalization principles distinguish absolutism and relativism.

    Absolutism is akin to deduction, with a kantian objective imperative of universality as the logic of the ethical method. The dynamic of generalization or extension is top-down.

    Relativism is akin to induction, with a baconian and subjective perspective of individual situational awareness. The generalization dynamic is of the individual unto the phenomenological universal.

    A major problem with cultural relativism is what Nietzsche saw as the herd or mass cult: "Everybody's doing it" does not pass the Nuremberg smell test (ref. to popular position denoting as subhuman some one or another category of citizen).

    Kant's position embraces both the deductive (act as if one's act were a universal ethic) and the inductive (develop one's act based on one's own perspicacity). Kant further tacitly acknowledges the divine ladder possibility of the moral wonder within--a kind of Cartesian oneness-awareness, after the Creator's Image)--but leaves it to the individual to develop his or her ethics, regardless of how Godly (on the ladder of divine ascent) they might be. Thus there is no place for "merely" Mosaic "God says so/I'm telling you" law-giving, Kant rather promoting a phenomenological basis--a kind of rationality within atom-based epistemology--for one's moral decisions and insights. Rawls takes this a step further, toward near-total relativism, with only the single deductive premise that an original position of equality in a blindfolded veil of unknowing is the guiding metric for kantian universal justness. Both Kant and Rawls have significant problems within their systems, e.g. Kant's categorical imperative is relativistic, as person-based (e.g., it is clear to a kantian "leader" that some classes of people are subhuman, so it is best ethics to eliminate them), and Rawls' notion of original position itself ignores historical choices of individuals (A saves some of her money, builds a small business; B uses his extra cash to go on vacation or to buy a guitar; A does not owe B some of her revenue, although positing an initial position of equality tends to promote that redistribution, in the rawlsian system (particularly if the system is superficially or simplistically taught and/or applied...not an uncommon practice).

    Thus a second problem with cultural relativism is that it has biases re e.g. a "graded absolutism" such as Kant develops (i.e., within the phenomenological context alone), in which a graded absolute such as "thou shalt not steal" may be partially (and hence unfairly) applied, as in the case of A saving her money to develop a business, some of which revenue is illogically and unfairly redistributed to B under rubric of "justice as fairness"--"fairness" is not necessarily redistribution, but may be cause-and-effect earning--i..e., beyond the obvious social infrastructure supported by taxation, she did build that business, and beyond the normative taxation supporting general social infrastructure, any additional taxation is a form of theft.

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