Cultural Universals

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I have chosen to write about why cultural universals pose a problem for moral relativism in this paper. I will begin by defining cultural universals (CU). Then, I will cite examples of such theory and continue by applying them to situations in which these similarities can be seen. Next, I will discuss how we can convince ourselves that a given standard of behavior is in fact a cultural universal. I will then define moral relativism as well as provide examples of cultural differences that are often cited in regards of moral relativism. Lastly, I will explain how the existence of cultural universals undermines moral relativism.

James Rachels believes that there are some moral rules that are common throughout differing cultures that
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Society as a whole could not condemn these practices while practicing moral relativism as it goes against one of the main points stressed within the theory itself.

If cultural relativism were employed it would prevent us from judging and questioning our own country’s policies as well as preventing us to pass judgment upon other cultures (Rachels, 19). In order to determine whether a particular action is right or wrong an individual needs only to review the standards of the society in question. Rachels cites an example of an Indian resident questioning the morality of her country’s caste system, a policy of hierarchal order (20). The woman must think in terms of her society’s culture in order to figure out whether or not something is moral or not.

Cultural universals pose a problem for moral relativism for many reasons. Moral relativism teaches us that there is no absolute way of judging the morality of a particular situation. The fact that different cultures exist throughout the world reiterates the idea that those people who live within these smaller communities are influenced by the opinions of the larger group on what is moral versus immoral. Cultural universals tell us that stealing and killing is morally wrong wherever it should occur; however, each society has their own culture and based on their past history they have different opinions on each of these practices. For example, the Eskimos practiced infanticide, a practice which allowed them to
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