Culture Morality: 2.0 Critical Analysis of Rachel's Claims (Essay Sample)
In this essay, your task is to critically respond to one or more major claim from James Rachels’ “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism.” Critically responding to a claim involves interpreting it (what does it mean?), analyzing the arguments for or against that claim (what are Rachels’ premises and conclusions?), and evaluating those arguments (are Rachels’ arguments good or bad? Why?). Examples of claims that would be appropriate to critically respond to in this assignment include the following:
• There is objective truth in morality—right and wrong are not merely matters of opinion, and cultures can approve of things that are, in fact, wrong and disapprove of things that are, in fact, right.
• All cultures have some values in common, and there is less disagreement between cultures than there seems to be at first glance.
• Being a tolerant person does not require being a cultural relativist, and it is not always arrogant to criticize the practices of other cultures.
After you choose one or more of these claims, you should:
(1) Discuss what your chosen claim means
(2) Discuss how Rachels argues for that claim and how he responds or would respond to arguments against that claim
(3) Argue that we should or should not be convinced by the arguments you discuss
(4) Write an introductory paragraph that tells the reader what your goal in the essay is (what you want to persuade your readers is true) and a concluding paragraph that tells your reader how you achieved that goal (how all that you discussed in the paper should persuade us to accept your main claim).
In my comments on your first draft, I’ll provide you with some objections (reasons to doubt that your argument is good or that your claims are true). You need to respond to these objections in the final draft.
Length, formattingstyle, and turning it in.
• The first draft of the paper should be at least 4 pages. The final draft should be at least 5 pages. No draft should be more than 6 pages.
• The very top of the paper should have the title of your essay with your full name below. Don’t put the name of the class or my name; it shouldn’t look like an assignment.
• The margins should all be 1”. The font should be Times New Roman, Garamond, or Baskerville, 12 point. It should be double-spaced.
The Challenge of Cultural Relativism.
Your Full Names
In “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism” Rachel raises fundamental claims on moral relativism. The key argument in his assertions is that right and wrong is relative, and varies from culture to culture. He argues that though people's culture could differ in practice, the underlying truth behind these practices is the same. This paper critically valuates and discusses Rachel's claims that right and wrong are merely matters of opinion and cultures can approve of things that are, in fact, wrong and disapprove of things that are, in fact, right. The paper further analyses his argument that all cultures have some common values, and that there is less disagreement between cultures than there seems to be at first glance.
2.0 Critical Analysis of Rachel's Claims
Claim One: There is objective truth in morality
Rachel claims that right and wrong are not matters of opinion and cultures can approve things that could be deemed wrong and disapprove things deemed right. What suffices from this argument is that morality is in fact not a matter of opinion. He differs with cultural relativists instead arguing that their argument isn't plausible as they tend to base their arguments from different cultural outlooks to a conclusion about morality. He cites the example of the Greeks and Callatians, and that of Eskimos and Americans given by cultural relativists. In the two cases, relativists conclude that cultural difference is merely amatter of opinion which differs from culture to culture. I concur with Rachel's position that cultural differences are not matters of opinion, and that the relativists argument is flawed. Particularly, his conclusion of the relativists assertions that cultures differ on moral codes and hence there lacks objective truth in morality. In my view, right or wrong are not merely matters of opinion which differ from culture to culture. There is independent objective truth that is not linked to opinion. Indeed the conclusion of cultural relativists is illogical. Factual disagreement does not necessarily imply absence of objective truth. For instance, Rachel cites the example of the two groups that express differing opinion with regards to whether the earth is spherical or flat. He opines that this disagreement does not invalidate the existence of objective truth which in this case is the actual shape of the earth. In fact, there disagreement is simply an expression of opinion on a factual, objective truth. Furthermore, I concur with Rachel that it's not mandatory that everyone must know the objective truth, if it exists. Yet the lack of knowledge of its existence does not nullify its existence. Therefore, I believe that there is objective truth that is independent of cultural disagreements. Thus I agree with Rachel that cultural relativist's conclusions do not follow from the premise since arguments must be presented in support of either true or false conclusion. According to Rachel, cultural relativism could still turn out to be true in spite of the falsity of the cultural differences argument. In his argument of the consequences of taking cultural relativism seriously, he quotes GrahamSumner's assertion on cultural relativism. He states that there is no measure of right or wrong other than the standards set by society. In fact, he states that the notion of right or wrong is in the ...
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