Monday, September 7, 2009

Cultural Relativism; Is Equality Even Possible?

When speaking of cultural relativism so far we know that certain civilizations and nation states cultures are not the same. This is of course a given. Just a reminder. Anyways we have used philosophical arguments and discussed whether these differing regions and cultures should be held accountable to universal standards of human rights laws under international laws mandated by the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with other "formal" human rights legislation which can bind countries under "customary"international law.
However, when we factor philosophical arguments into the discussion of the who, what, why, how, and where, of universality of human rights, the outcome of our understanding might become "disoriented" somewhat, to some people. This is not intentionally meant to mislead or to distort ones worldview, it is only a means to use critical thinking skills to evaluate a given perspective or situation from alternating viewpoints.

According to this very interesting article published 10 years ago in a scholarly journal frequently cited in Masters and Phd programs, I found an interesting quotation. The article is speaking about the "principle of equality" which goes hand in hand with our case study comparison of various cultures.

"The principle of equality" is a fundamental principle of morality and justice. The principle says that similar cases must be treated similarly. If two individuals are the same in all morally relevant respects, then they must be treated the same. The principle of equality likewise says that if there is a distinction in the way that individuals are treated this distinction must rest on a morally relevant difference between the individuals, this is just the contra-positive of the principle. The principle of equality is a purely formal requirement of morality a minimal requirement that any moral action arrangement or system must meet. The principal of morality of requirement says nothing about what are morally relevant respects or differences."

He concludes:" The real substantive issues of justice are the questions of what respects are morally relevant and to what degree."

He is no doubt questioning whether being moral is even a possibility. That is a matter of fact the title of his publication. If you take this philosophy literally you throw the baby out with the bath water literally from a morally relevant point of view. If your justice is based on your morality than you have no morality right? Than this means you throw away justice? Where do we get philosophers like this published? I mean we know where, but how is what I really mean. I hope you enjoy the article. It is thought provoking but I doubt you will likely buy the simplicity of the "principle of equality".


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