A relativist approach is that no two situations are the same, and that a persons choice is related the unique set of circumstances set out in their lives; and it makes no sense to generalise or to say that one act or thought is always wrong and another is always right. There is no objective morality, or if there is it cannot be discovered; decisions are not related to anything that is absolute so there is not point trying to establish moral rules.
A perfect example of the two beliefs being combined is the countries judicial system; in simple the judicial system does not treat every case of murder for example as the same, they weigh up the circumstances of the unique situation and judge weather their actions where carried out with malice intent or just cause. From this perspective the judicial system is undoubtedly relative. However this is where the absolute beliefs come into play when considering the judicial system, the beliefs of a relative is that it is pointless to find moral rules is contradicted; this is because we know the law and what we can do by the law.
Kant says that we should act according to maxims that we would want to see as universal laws. These laws are absolutist, we can work them out logically prior to experience; they are not verified through experience; otherwise known as ‘a priori’.
In a case of an abortion debate, if the question ‘is it right to abort a foetus’ arises. An absolutist would say categorically yes or categorically no. This is because they believe that the circumstances of the situation do not matter and that it is either right or wrong. An absolutist would take the stand, why weight up the circumstances when the outcome is always to be the same. On the other hand a relativist would say ‘under what circumstances’; this is because it is their belief that the circumstances of a situation must be weighed up before a decision is made.
From my understanding so far cultural relativism (developed by Franz Boas) is the principle that an individual’s human beliefs and activities should be understood in their own culture. Basically, no matter what your own personal beliefs are you should accept the fact that others have made decisions that may conflict with your own beliefs.
Cultural Relativism fits almost perfectly in today’s society. We live in a multi-cultural society and we are surround by people of other philosophies, religion and beliefs. We may not notice it on a conscious level but everyday we are living the cultural Relativism by letting people have their own beliefs that affect them personally. This is not true however for some certain things like politics; where people will force theirs beliefs and undermine the beliefs of others as they think it is for the greater good.