Re: SOC: cultural relativism

From: Dan Fabulich (
Date: Sat Jul 29 2000 - 20:36:45 MDT

Greg Burch wrote:

> Ultimately, this "paradox" is a false one, and arises from a mistaken
> conflation of description and prescription. Post-modernist "sophistication"
> is nothing more than the stubborn refusal to acknowledge this error.

No, it's not just a category error on the part of the
multi-culturalists. It's about making a commitment to the notion that
it is very important for people to make decisions for themselves (that
is, free from human coercion). That's a unique value, as far as I can
tell, to our culture (though there are some important elements of it
in Buddhism); I praise our culture for cherishing it. I believe that
our culture is better than many others, even better than most, because
it prioritizes this kind of autonomy.

The mistake, if any, is to move from multi-culturalism to relativism,
when the correct move is from multi-culturalism to sollipsism or
ethnocentricism. Multi-culturalism is not at odds with ethnocentricism (a
sollipsism of "we" instead of "I") when our culture prioritizes

Under this kind of ethnocentricism, we are morally obligated to
respect the autonomy of others, because that's what our culture
dictates; if we believed otherwise, we'd be wrong.


      -unless you love someone-
    -nothing else makes any sense-
           e.e. cummings

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