Friday, March 9, 2012

[PL 431] The Cultural Differences Argument

In "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism," Rachels argues that the Cultural Differences Argument is invalid.

The Cultural Differences Argument is the following:
  1. Different cultures have different moral codes.
  2. Therefore, there is no objective "truth" in morality. Right and wrong are only matters of opinion and opinions vary from culture to culture.
Rachels argues that this argument is invalid because the claim that there is no objective "truth" about a particular subject matter does not follow from the fact that there is a disagreement about what the truth is. He gives the following refutation by analogy:
  1. Some people believe that the earth is flat, whereas others believe that it is an oblate spheroid.
  2. Therefore, there is no objective "truth" in geography (i.e., there is no fact of the matter about whether the earth is flat or an oblate spheroid).
Is this a convincing refutation by analogy of the Cultural Differences Argument? How might the moral relativist reply to this refutation?

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