This made to show that Moral Relativism is false.

This paper covers the central theme of Moral
(Cultural) Relativism. It is essentially the idea that morally acceptable
conduct is determined and set by culture. The key factor is that the moral
codes of a certain culture are usually different when compared to another. This
is highlighted constantly through the traditions of the Greeks and the
Callatians when it comes to death. Another example involves the Eskimos and
their belief in infanticide. The Cultural Differences Argument is then examined
and applied to certain examples. This is not a sound argument because there is
a logical flaw that can be exploited. The argument can then be made to show
that Moral Relativism is false. By examining certain viewpoints and judgements,
Cultural Relativism can be proven false.

            The
main idea of Moral (Cultural) Relativism is that morality is shaped by culture
and that there is no universal truth in ethics. (Rachels p.21). Moral
Relativism holds that actions can be determined to be either right or wrong to
a particular cultural code. Attached to this is the fact that there are
numerous cultural codes. Moral Relativism holds that no moral code is superior
to another. At its core, moral relativism explains that we should not judge a
culture based on our own standards of what is right or wrong, rather we should
attempt to understand the practices of other cultures and respect them. Moral
judgements that are true in one culture may be false in another. Therefore, it
is impossible for all cultures to agree on a certain action or subject and as
such, there is no universal truth among all cultures.                        

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            Throughout
the text, Rachels illustrates various differences between cultures that support
the idea of moral relativism. The first cultural difference that is citied by
Rachels occurs between the Greeks and the Callatians. It involved the way that
the two cultures handled the bodies of their dead fathers. For the Callatians,
it was a custom for them to eat the body of their dead father. For the Greeks,
they practiced cremation. King Darius of ancient Persia then asked the Greeks
if they would eat their dead father and asked the Callatians if they would burn
the body. Both the Greeks and the Callatians were shocked and horrified. It was
impossible for them to imagine. The Greeks thought it was wrong to eat the dead
while the Callatians believed it was right. This can support moral relativism
because both cultures have opinions that vary.

            Another
example that Rachels introduces in the text is the culture of the Eskimos. The
Eskimo men had multiple wives and they would share wives with guests. Males
have access to other men’s wives. Aside from marital practices, infanticide was
common among the Eskimos. They would kill newborn babies and old people who
were no longer able to contribute to the family. Female babies tended to be
killed more often than male babies. When comparing the Eskimo culture to the
American culture, the Americans believed that infanticide was wrong whereas the
Eskimos thought it was right. Both arguments about eating the dead bodies and
infanticide show that the customs and traditions of one culture are different
than another. Moral Relativism leads us to believe that what is right or wrong
simply depends on an opinion.            

            Rachels
explains that the Cultural Differences Argument can be used to analyze the
concept of Moral Relativism. This is an argument that can be used to examine
the differences between cultures and lead to an ultimate conclusion about
morality within that culture. The Cultural Differences Argument is derived from
the fact that diverse cultures believe in a set of moral codes that vary when
compared to another culture. As a result, objective truth in morality is
impossible. Actions or beliefs that are considered morally right or morally
wrong are simply an opinion which again varies between cultures. This is the
what Rachels considers the form of an argument. The reasoning that Rachels uses
as an example is that cannibalism is not right or wrong, it is an opinion that
varies among culture. The same logic can be applied in the case with the
Eskimos. They believed infanticide was right while Americans believed it was
wrong. The opinions concerning infanticide are simply different among other
cultures. The Cultural Differences Argument can lead to the conclusion that
there are no universally correct or “right” moral codes or standards that are
accepted. The only right or morally correct standard is the one that is
relative to one’s culture.         

            Rachels
criticizes the Cultural Differences Argument because it has a major logical
flaw. Rachels illustrates that “even if the premise were true, the conclusion
could still possibly be false” (Rachels p.23). It is revealed that the premise
is what people in various societies believe and the conclusion is what really
is the case. In other words, the Cultural Differences Argument is invalid based
on the established assertion that since there is no objective truth, it does
not follow that there is a disagreement about the actual truth of a certain
matter. The main problem with the Cultural Differences Argument is that it
leads us to a conclusion based solely on the fact that a disagreement exists. If
different cultures have a different view on a certain matter, then we have no
right or wrong answer about that matter. The fact that some societies disagree
on a subject does not show that there is no objective truth. A supporting
argument would be needed to determine if the conclusion is in fact true.

            This
flaw can be illustrated using the belief that some societies think that the
Earth is flat while others belief it is spherical. As a result, there is no
objective truth in geography. This example that Rachels uses implies that the
belief of the shape of the Earth is an opinion which varies among separate
cultures. If two societies disagree, this does not mean that there is no
subjective truth. Occasionally, some societies might be wrong. The fact of
disagreement does not prove that there is no objective truth in morality as a
whole. It leads us to believe that if there was moral truth, every member of
every society must know it. This is obviously not the case for certain
societies.

            The
Cultural Differences Argument does not establish Cultural Relativism because of
the logical flaw. Cultural Relativism can be viewed as false for a variety of
reasons. If Cultural Relativism was true, certain inferences can be drawn. Rachels
explains that we would have to stop judging other cultures because they are
different. In turn, this would stop the criticism of certain practices such as
slavery and anti-Semitism. If Cultural Relativism was true, it would prevent us
from claiming that these acts are wrong. Society would not be allowed to
influence and criticize these social practices. Cultural Relativism will view
these practices as morally right when they are clearly wrong. Secondly, if
Cultural Relativism was true, the only way to determine what is right or wrong
is to ask within the society. This will prevent us from criticizing own our own
society code. It can lead to the thought that our code is perfect when in fact
it is not. It can be improved in various ways. Additionally, if Cultural
Relativism was true, then moral progress does not exist. Throughout history,
women were mistreated and considered inferior towards men. Overtime, this has
changed to the point where they are now equals. Assuming that Cultural
Relativism was correct, we would not be able to determine if new standards are
better than older ones. It would be a mistake to judge societies in different
time periods. If Cultural Relativism was true, then social reformers would not
have the power to question the ideas of their own society. Change would not
occur. Moral progress has been made as a society to improve lifestyles.
Cultural Relativism argues that these judgements and improvements are not
right. As a result, it is false.  

            Moral Relativism is
idea that moral codes are made by the society and that there is no universal
truth. Every society has its own set of beliefs and no one moral code can be
considered superior to others. The Cultural Differences Argument makes Moral
Relativism invalid. In final analysis, this is why Moral Relativism has been
rejected.