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Importance of cultural relativism in anthropology - Essay Example

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This paper discusses the importance of cultural relativism in anthropology. Relativism of culture refers to a scenario where what is considered to be ethical in one community, may be viewed unethical and unacceptable in another. With this understanding, one should not relate arrogantly with people from another cultural background because of their behavior…
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Importance of cultural relativism in anthropology
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Importance of cultural relativism in anthropology

Download file to see previous pages... Anthropology is a field of study that entails research on human being’s behavior. Culture main determine individual’s conduct. Therefore, studying human behavior cannot be comprehensive without factoring in the cultural aspect. Many other disciplines on study of human behavior have however failed to fully consider culture as primary factor determining human behavior. Scientist researchers assumed that human behavior is majorly linked to biological factors and not culture.
Early in 19th century, it was realized that none of the cultures was better than another. It was now believed that cultures are just different with none being superior to another. It was then, that anthropology discipline embraced cultural relativism as a key tool. Relativism argument contributed greatly to anthropology growth. It has contributed essentially in history of anthropology. Anthropologists employ cultural relativism argument that acknowledges existence of distinctive cultural values by different groups of people. In anthropology, no condemnation should be made based on the cultural differences. Cultural relativism does not allow any form of condemnation regarding immoral tendencies (Sikka 43-93). A cultural relativity does not respond enough to ethical issues that need to be addressed. In reality, some of ethical practices like torture cannot be tolerated. Therefore, anthropologists should not just allow such malpractices be carried on and not respond accordingly. Today, there are critics about suitability of relativism application in anthropology. However, anthropologists still hold strongly to the fact that in reality, culture influences human behavior. Anthropology pays much attention to the interpretation of data than it is with scientific disciplines that focus mainly on giving explanations. There have been divisions in the whole anthropology field based on different opinions about the place of culture in human behavior. Some endorse scientific procedures to be used in research to provide an explanation in human behavior. In their argument, they assume that evolution contributes to human behavior. On the other hand, other anthropologists hold that culture plays a major role in shaping people’s behavior. They still value relativism in human behavior study. Most anthropologists are reluctant in protecting rights of human beings. Anthropologists should not use relativism of culture as an excuse for not protecting the rights of people. They should be in forefront in ensuring cultural practices that violate other people’s rights are banned. Cultural practices should be broken when protecting people’s rights. Relativism contributed enormously in the discipline of social science. However, there have been numerous critics disapproving the essence of relativism in social sciences. Many people including anthropologists take this argument to be not relativistic. Cultural relativism objects theories that do not provide appropriate framework that provides analyses for data from different cultures. Relativism theory upholds that in examining human thoughts and action, the process should be relativistic not particularistic. Particularistic approach only embrace single framework in analyzing set of data. In studying human behavior, this method should be discarded in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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