To be a social reformer and a Cultural Relativist
By Jaimie Ianke
PHL 104 475
Is it possible to be a social reformer and a Cultural Relativist? A Cultural Relativist is one who see morality as a product of that culture. That something is morally right if one’s culture approves of it. This would mean that there are no guidelines on right and wrong. We cannot know any absolute right or wrong, per Rachels. Not judging another’s society on what is right and wrong, would be one simple way to explain the Cultural Relativist perspective.
Cultural Relativism works well if we were to look at another culture with the following conditions:
The society as a whole would be considered archaic
There is no industrialization
Lastly, there is one social framework and it is unvarying on how it is defined.
Rachels believes that “certain basic values are common to all cultures.” and “There are some moral rules that all societies will have in common, because those rules are necessary for society to exist.” According to Rachels, the following are the basic common values to all cultures:
The young are protected
Telling the truth
and being against murder.
I agree, with Rachels, with reading and studying about history, and even getting into the mythology of any culture. We learn that each pretty much each culture have the same common core values. But if you are to be going by the perspective of the Cultural Relativist. And if you are looking for progress or any type of improvement within society you are considered to be wrong.
A social reformer is any believer in meliorism in a particular area of society. Social reform movements are a change that will preserve the existing values and as well will provide improved means of implementing them. Let’s say you are to believe that Cultural Relativism is to be true then it would not be legitimate as a social reformer to challenge their societies ideas. A reformer may not challenge the idea, for the ideas themselves are correct when going by Cultural Relativism.
Can a social reformer be looked at as if they are acting for the good of society?
If society is not keeping up with its own ideas?
To have some changes would be for the better for the survival of society. Progress is a better way of doing things while keeping up with the change of times.
Without any sort of progress how can any society/culture survive?
How can we view any kind of progress if Cultural Relativism is to be true?
Should it be if we are keeping or not keeping any idea matter if the values are not diminished?
We then would have to look at the ideas we have about social reform differently. These movements would have to work differently than any other type of movements within history. This would be the way to not just be a social reformer and a Cultural Relativism at the same time.
Martin Luther King Jr sought out to change society for the better and to rid of slavery. There is a way this can be done within the confinements demanded by Cultural Relativism. This being as society has not been living up to its own ideas. This makes the reformer be seen as to be doing what is for the better of society. Where the ideas of society have the quality by we conclude any motion as worthwhile. Then, the idea of social reform in this very restricted way would make sense.
We should not change any part of any culture or society unless it is for the better. Making or wanting to make any type of change for personal gain of any sorts would not be the correct way of doing anything unless it is for the good of society. This would be a very good example of the best symbiotic relationship there actually could be. But without a Cultural Relativist and their perspective on society we would not have social reformers.
Cultural Relativism does give us this food for thought. That there is no reasonable belief on if a practice is neither right nor wrong, for each is just a cultural product. And that even if we do have strong feelings about a certain types of conducts, and may feel uncomfortable about that conduct. That we may come across someone who will insist that how we feel could be erroneous. We should all do our best to keep an open mind when it comes to others. This all being the result of cultural conditioning, we now have the understanding that how we feel is not a perception of the truth. Whatever it might hold, we should become more open to achieving the truth in the end.