The Challenge of Cultural Relativism

Please read James Rachels, The Challenge of Cultural Relativism (pp. 421-433) in the SECOND section of your course text. While Rachels appreciates the value of being open and thoughtful in response to cultural diversity of opinion regarding morals, he gives a number of reasons why it is not philosophically viable to extend such openness into a full-blown relativism “about the nature of morality.”

Your essay should consist of two parts, the first of which describes Rachels’ position, and the second one evaluates it philosophically. The essay must not exceed 1500 words. Grading criteria: From a literary and grammatical point of view, the essay should be almost entirely free of mistakes.

This means that, with rare exceptions, it should be free of errors in spelling, word usage, sentence structure, paragraph structure, overall organization, and so forth. Numerous literary and/or grammatical errors will greatly reduce your grade. At the level of exposition, it should provide a clear, straightforward description of the arguments proposed by Rachels. At the level of critical analysis, it should provide a clear thesis, the development of which is supported by strong reasons and arguments in response to Rachels’ specific arguments. Statements of personal preference, unsupported by philosophical reasons and arguments, are not relevant to the justification of a thesis. Criteria used at the University of Western Ontario for assigning grades from A+ to F can be found on the course site of OWL.

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