Cultural Relativism: Truth Is Relative
Cultural relativism is the view that no culture is superior to any other culture when comparing systems of morality, law, politics, etc. It's the philosophical notion that all cultural beliefs are equally valid and that truth itself is relative, depending on the cultural environment. Those who hold to cultural relativism hold that all religious, ethical, aesthetic, and political beliefs are completely relative to the individual within a cultural identity. Relativism often includes moral relativism (ethics depend on a social construct), situational relativism (right or wrong is based on the particular situation), and cognitive relativism (truth itself has no objective standard).
Cultural Relativism: A Misguided Movement Towards Pluralism & Tolerance
Cultural relativism, like moral relativism, pervades today's world. As long as we don't "hurt" anyone, anything goes. Absolute truth has been discarded along with God. We live in a society of pluralism and tolerance. We reject the idea of universal right and wrong. With a diminishing list of objective standards, our legislative system is having a harder time defining the laws, and our court system is having a harder time interpreting them. In just a few decades, our entertainment industry has pushed the "acceptance" of lewdness and indecency to levels we never imagined. Our children are losing their moral compass and lashing out in violence like never before. Our schools teach that we are an accident of evolution. Our institutions teach that we must accept all types of lifestyles or be deemed "intolerant," or worse, "hate mongers." Relativism encourages us to accept pornography in the media and fornication in our colleges and universities. Many things that were deemed a "sin" only a few years ago are now either accepted or promoted in our culture. According to the relativists, all points of view are true except for those that teach absolutes -- absolute truth, absolute right or wrong, or an absolute God.
Of course, cultural relativism is appropriate in some respects. For example, food, clothing, language, and driving rules are different within cultures, and it's important that these relative differences remain. However, these are not issues of universal "right" and "wrong." These are not matters of mathematical certainty. These are not issues of "truth." In a relativistic society, we have no right to judge or punish anyone. Right and wrong are now defined by socialization. Society changes and morality becomes a moving target. In truth, if the standard of right and wrong is based on relativism, then society has no standards at all.
Cultural Relativism: Illogical Conclusion
Cultural relativism is the philosophical belief that all cultural views are equally valid. However, if you test this position under general rules of logic, you soon discover that relativism is illogical and self-defeating. If relativism is true and all points of view are true, then the assertion that relativism is false, is true. Is this contradictory? Yes. Is truth contradictory? No.
Relativists believe that all truth is relative. Therefore, the statement, "All truth is relative," would be absolutely true. If this statement is absolutely true, then not all things are relative and the statement is false.
Relativists declare that "there are no absolute truths." However, this is an absolute statement, which is supposed to be true. Therefore, it is an absolute truth and the statement is false.
According to the relativist position, I can have my own version of truth. Therefore, a truth for me is that relativism is false. Based on the relativistic rules, I have just established that relativism is false. Of course, the relativist will say "no" to my logic, but then what is true for me is not really true, and, again, I have proven the philosophy of relativism false.
Give it some thought…
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