• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explain the differences between Cultural Relativism and Cultural Absolutism

Extracts from this document...


A) Explain the differences between Cultural relativism and absolutism. Moral absolutism is the idea that there are set values and that some things are objectively right or wrong regardless of the circumstances. Pope John Paul the 2nd said ? If something is true, then it must be true for all people and at all times? The ancient Greek philosopher Plato supported the idea of moral absolutism because he believed that humans were inherently bad and so we need absolutes to guide us. The opposite of an absolute view is a relative morality, which takes into account the circumstances before deciding if something is good or bad. Protagoras said ?man is the measure of all things? which means he believed we need to take our morals from our own consciences and not let a source of authority tell us what is right or wrong. Cultural relativism is the theory that because of the diverse range of cultures and customs in the world means that morality cannot be absolute. The anthropologist William Sumner said ?The right way is the way that the ancestors used and which has been handed down? which suggests that morality is entirely dependent on your upbringing and background. This theory directly opposes moral absolutism. ...read more.


In conclusion, the differences between cultural absolutism and relativism are significant. Although both accept that our culture may make us have different values, and that our culture is important, cultural relativists maintain that because of our differences in culture, it is possible for us to share no values at all. Cultural absolutists on the other hand, believe that all human beings share a similar code of conduct, and we all have consciences. They believe that this moral code should be applied to all in law. B) ?Nothing is always wrong? Discuss this statement. The belief that there are no absolute values is called Relativism. Relative Morality is the idea of taking into account the circumstances of a situation before deciding how to act, and the belief that what is right and wrong varies depending on these circumstances. Therefore relativists would agree with this statement. However, absolutists would disagree, as absolutism is the idea that there are certain things which are always right or wrong, regardless of the circumstances. One philosopher who pioneered the idea of moral absolutism was Plato. He believed that mankind was inherently selfish and immoral, and so needed a set of absolute rules to guide us. He set out this philosophy in his book Republic, with his analogy called the Ring of Gyges, when a ?just man? is given a ring with grants him the power of invisibility. ...read more.


This is supported by the ?golden rule? or the idea that you should treat others how you want to be treated. This rule is found in all religious scripture albeit in different ways, for example ?Love your neighbour? in the Bible or ?Let him who desires his own advantage not harm another? which is found in Buddhist text. This shows cultural absolutists that all human beings share the same basic values. They believe that it is important for our human rights to be upheld in law if our moral standards fail, and so agree with moral absolutists that some things e.g rape and murder are always wrong. However cultural relativists would argue that cultural absolutism will create a homogenous culture and lead to a world which is less accepting of those who are different to us. In conclusion, the argument for cultural absolutism is stronger and so I think that the statement is wrong. This is because although it is important to be accepting and understanding of other people?s morals it is also incredibly important to uphold human rights, as they are vital in a democratic society. Freedom of speech is an important right and so cultural absolutism is not taking away people?s right to disagree, or express their opinion, but simply does not allow for abhorrent acts to be justified in the way that cultural absolutism does. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Discuss the Relationship between law and morals. Consider how far the law seeks to ...

    led to it being criminalised by the Punishment of Incest Act 1908. Another example of moral rules being given effect by statute is the moral views on racism. The moral rule of discrimination based on a person's colour is seen as being morally wrong.

  2. Can moral absolutism be justified?

    Although most religions have basic guidelines as to what is right or wrong, it is impossible to know the will of God or the gods in every situation. Alternatively, there are reasons to dispute that moral absolutism cannot be justified, some believe that having absolute standards sufficient way to judge moral questions.

  1. 'Euthanasia should be legalised. Agree or Disagree?'

    When a person is desperate, they may feel that they want to end their life and therefore deduce that the pain is too great and life too agonising. However perhaps these moments of desperation will pass and they will be glad that no one acted on their pleas.

  2. Moral Absolutism can Never be Justified. Discuss

    Moral Absolutism reverts humanity back to the stubborn nature of childhood, and prevents the adult ability to think critically. Furthermore, Deontological ethics leads to ethnocentricity, as the refusal to conform to another's belief system can only be put down to a supposed superior way of thinking.

  1. Explain the difference between moral relativism and cultural relativism

    This portrays the influence of your culture has on your moral beliefs. This is proved by the findings of feral children. These people are brought up by animals and they learn the traits of these animals. However when they are bought to human civilization it seems they have no moral beliefs or understanding.

  2. Absolutism and Relativism

    to them to decided whether they think murder is right or wrong, and if they think it is right, that would mean that society would have people going around murdering people because they thought that it would be ok for them to do so.

  1. Discuss critically the belief that conscience is the voice of God.

    Yet, when he started farming at age 22, he did so with the assistance of 36 slaves. Over the years, the number of slaves grew, until at his death in 1799, his estate had 316 slaves. So, despite his wish to live a moral life, he suffered no pangs of conscience regarding slavery.

  2. Capital Punishment

    Although some Christians have mixed feelings towards the theory of retribution as 'the individual is responsible for his or her actions, and part of growth into maturity is facing the consequences of ones actions, in this case wrongdoing'21. On the other hand this does not justify the point of retributive

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work