Arguments For Cultural Relativism

QUESTION: What are the arguments for cultural relativism?


There are many arguments for cultural relativism. Let’s consider a few examples:
  • One argument for cultural relativism can be found within educational institutions. Without a dress code, students feel a freedom to express their individuality.
  • Another example is found in governments who have tried to promote freedom of expression and other practices of economic, racial, and educational integration. The idea is to familiarize the citizenry of its culture toward acceptance of one another and overcome prejudices.
Cultural Relativism is the ultimate movement of political correctness. It requires ethical, political, religious, and societal tolerance. All views are valid, truth is relative, and "all is acceptable as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else." Relativism frees a culture from rules and laws and therefore eliminates codes of conduct. Consequently, cultures adhering to "no absolute truths" abandon all that keeps a society in behavioral balance. (This is the very thing that keeps others from stepping on rights to beliefs and visions of relativism.)

Relativism, whether it is cultural or universal, often includes morality. Even though a relationship with God (or not) is individual, the pendulum has moved to swing to only one side of the center. What was accepted and tolerable in most societies throughout Earth's history is now being narrowed through cultural relativism. Without any moral value system, it seems impossible that the lack of moral standards will not infringe upon (or offend) those with moral standards and vice versa.

We must understand that to cry "tolerance" for one principle and then "offended" when others are exercising their beliefs and freedoms is hypocritical. This problem is increasing as free societies are changing their practices of tolerance, i.e. the pendulum mentioned above.

"Every society on the face of the earth, past and present, has its codes of conduct, identifying behaviors it will not tolerate. The only questions are: first, who or what defines that code of conduct; and, second, how are violators of that code dealt with. Modeling decisions on societal mores and practices, rather than on the teaching of Scripture (especially that of the New Testament), leads rather ironically to both laxity and legalism."1

Unencumbered by morals and ethics it will work, but only for a time. In the end, the "all is acceptable, no absolutes" attitude seems to actually be a search for individual happiness.

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