James Rachel’s Speech about Cultural Relativism Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


People should coexist peacefully and practice their traditions without interference from other cultures despite the differences that exist between them. However, sometimes, they fail to do that as they are forced to react furiously when their culture is affected. This paper describes how James Rachel approaches the theory of Cultural Relativism and the flaws that make it an inappropriate way of viewing cultural practices.


Culture refers to all practices, traditions, artifacts, language, customs and taboos that guide the behavior of people from a common ancestral origin. Relativism is the balance between good and bad or appropriate and inappropriate based on the perceptions of people involved in a situation (Rachels 14).

The Application of Cultural Relativism in the Society

It is necessary to note that this theory is not related to some particular scientist even though most researchers claim that Franz Boas played a significant role in shaping its origin. This theory explains that people respect their cultures since they perceive them to be good.

In addition, communities cannot pour ridicule on different cultural practices or compare their traditions with those of other people since every culture is important to its members. In addition, it explains that nobody should discriminate against people from various backgrounds and origins or judge them because of their beliefs and practices since they have no cultural or social justifications to do so (Rachels 18).

James Rachels argues that this theory considers all the cultural practices to be good and valued according to the view of their adepts. Therefore, the author proposes that all the cultures are equal regardless of how members of other cultures view them.

Rachels proposes that this theory applies to many occasions in our daily lives since we interact with people from different cultural backgrounds. In addition, people have different views regarding political, economic and social issues, which cannot be changed no matter how we try to convince them.

It is necessary to explain that people understand that some aspects of their culture cannot be compromised because of westernization; therefore, they cling to their customs despite their levels of education or exposure to other cultural practices.

This theory resembles my beliefs that we are equal and should respect one another regardless our beliefs in various issues.

In addition, the world is becoming a small village due to the recent inventions in technology, and people should learn and know the cultures of other people to ensure they respect them in order to avoid conflicts. The author confirms that this would be a good way of promoting healthy interactions among people from different communities (Rachels 17).

In addition, he admits that this theory has some flaws that make it an inappropriate way of viewing the society as a compact substance. Some cultures promote discrimination, abuse and ignore the need to embrace change that promotes progress and people’s wellbeing.

For instance, some African communities practice female circumcision and wife inheritance; such practices should be abolished since they violate the rights of women while some western countries promote gay marriages that are abhorred by many religious groups (Rachels 22).

He concludes that although these communities may not appreciate cultural changes they must learn to respect human life and change their beliefs in order not to violate the human rights.


Cultural Relativism is a good theory that enables people to learn various aspects of other cultures and respect them. This is a good way of promoting intercultural relationships since it ensures people respect the boundaries between their cultures. However, this theory considers all the cultural practices to be good irrespective of their effects on their members or those close to them.

Works Cited

Rachels, James. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2012. Print.

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