Philosophy Ncr Essay

Submitted By sykong
Words: 1182
Pages: 5

The Normative Cultural Relativism Theory (NCR) is based on the concept and idea that, “different cultures have different moral codes” (748). Simply, this theory implies that certain cultural customs cannot be judge on the basis of whether they’re “correct” or “incorrect”. This theory is founded upon 6 main arguments which are: (i) Different societies have different moral claims, (ii) there is no objective standard that can be used to judge another culture’s moral codes, (iii) our own moral code for our society holds no special status since it is merely one among many, (iv) there is no such thing as a “universal truth”, (v) the moral code of a society determines what is right within that society, and (vi) different societies should adopt an attitude of tolerance for practices of other cultures. Based on these six arguments, William Graham Sumner, summarizes that there is no measure of right and wrong other than the standards of one’s society. However, if NCR and the six arguments are correct, the idea of moral progress within society will be called into doubt. We often use the term “progress” to describe a state of improvement; the idea of replacing a way of doing thing with a better way. If NCR is true, then a proponent of NCR cannot view the abolition of slavery as a significant moral improvement. To state that we have improved and made progress since the 18th century would imply that we are making a judgment that the present-day society is better. This calls into question the plausibility of NCR since slavery is no longer morally permissible in our society, which would mean that the Western culture has made progress in its moral thinking. Therefore, Cultural Relativism is inadequate and flawed since this theory argues that there is no moral reality, meaning that our moral conventions cannot improve.
Generally we would assume that the Western culture have morally improved since the 18th century, since slavery, a practice that was once considered permissible, is now judged to be morally wrong and impermissible within the Western society. James Rachel, an American philosopher who critiques the grounds of NCR, points out that if we were to remain consistent with the views of a cultural relativist, we would not be able to fully acknowledge the existence of moral reformers. As human beings, we occasionally like to believe that some social reforms have improved our society, but Cultural Relativism affirms that these are merely neutral changes or a clarification on a standard that is already in existence. Rachel argues that, “it makes sense to think that our own society has made some moral progress, while admitting that it is still imperfect and in need of reform” (751) and since Cultural Relativism rejects this notion, it would imply that the abolition of slavery in Western culture has not improved the society as a whole. This concept conflicts with our current basic human values, specifically, the Western value of liberty. Thus, Rachel argues that Relativism should not be affirmed due to this flaw. The Cultural Relativism, he claims, is implausible since there has been moral progress. For example, in the case of slavery, many individuals within the Western society believed that the African Americans we unintelligent. This racial belief led to the enslavement of the African race and the creation of racial laws; laws that defined whether an individual had the rights to liberty. Since the abolition of slavery, the Western Society has slowly progressed in a sense of rationality; African Americans were no longer seen as barbarians, rather, they are now seen as civilized beings with equal human rights.
Rather than stopping here, James Rachels also attacks Cultural Relativism on the basis that it allows far too much tolerance. It is argued that Cultural Relativism does not guide individuals with a certain moral code or value since it states that when confronted with a moral problem, individuals should consult the society they find