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Ruth Benedict and Fluehr-Lobban

Essay by   •  November 17, 2010  •  Essay  •  668 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,320 Views

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Cultural societies from around the world have been looked at and studied throughout our history by many different Anthropologists. Anthropology is the study of mankind, their societies, and the customs they have. Two Anthropologist that I will compare and contrast are Ruth Benedict and Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban.

Benedict believes that morality differs in every society around the world. Benedict's main view in the anthropology world is moral/ethical relativism. Benedict uses this to show how different cultures have different moral/ethical codes. Moral/ethical relativism is the ethical theory that denies the existence of universal moral truths and proposes that right and wrong must be defined variously, based on differences in cultural norms. What is morally right is relative to one's society and time in history, it's not absolute across time and cultures.

Benedict believes an action may be good for one person but bad for another person, or good in one culture setting but bad in another cultural setting. We should not ask whether an act is good or bad in the abstract, but only whether it is good or bad in a particular situation.

Fluehr-Lobban believes that other cultures should have their own moral values. Fluehr-Lobban's main views on cultural relativism is that other cultures should have their own moral values and that we should respect them and educate ourselves about their culture. Cultural relativism states that moral evaluation is rooted in and cannot be separated from the experience, beliefs, and behaviors of a particular culture, and hence, that what is wrong in one culture may not be so in another.

Fluehr-Lobban believes we need to be sensitive to cultural differences but we should not allow them to override widely recognized human rights. Fluehr-Lobban feels that all people in all cultures should have some form of universal human rights. Fluehr-Lobban believes when there is a choice between defending human rights and defending cultural relativism that all anthropologists should choose to protect and promote universal human rights. According to Fluehr-Lobban, anthropologists should not be bystanders. They should not just observe a situation where people's human rights are being violated but they should protect those universal human rights over cultural relativism.

Back in the 1800's in the United States when slavery was a culturally held value it was okay to own

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