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Cultural Relativism

a friend had a philosophy class 2day (at UC Berkeley). i snuck in out of curiosity. omg!

the teacher talked for like 2 hours about a 10 page section in the book that i skimmed in 20min while listening. and one girl raised her had to ask how you could say that nazi death camps were worse than interning japanese. another guy asked how can their be objective truth if we might all be hallucinating? (ummm, then the objective truth is we are all hallucinating. duh. any question of the form "What's the objective truth of the matter if X?" is easily answered by "X, duh")

and apparently some time after i stopped listening (had manga), the teacher endorsed individual relativism (the topic had been cultural relativism, which she did not endorse. presumably b/c it meant she couldn't criticise israel)

the entire piece on cultural relativism in the book was basically 1) explains what it is 2) explains some reason you might be uncomfortable adopting it. nothing on truth or falsity. also seemed to endorse a quotation saying everyone thinks their own society is the best (which is obviously false. immigrants. and ummm anti-American protestors in america too)

also the teacher said if anything was a moral imperative, it was saving a baby on the street drowning in a puddle. she gave no reason why. just thought it was obvious.

she also asked some questions that revealed her view of taxes was something like: what's the best way to redistribute wealth?

for a decent argument against cultural relativism, try:

People immigrate. And not randomly. There are some countries that many people think are great, and wish to move to. While others have almost no immigrants. How can a cultural relativist explain this? (Answer: His theory can't account for this very well, thus making it a bad explanation of reality.)

A friend suggests cultural relativists might say people go to get jobs.

That one's easy. It implies jobs are better than no jobs. Thus cultures that create enough jobs are better than ones that don't.

My friend says they will say jobs are not better. Umm, yeah. But then why do people want them more than no jobs? I suppose it must be because people like money. But wait, wouldn't that make cultures that create more money better? etc etc cultural relativists are dumb.

anyway, after that i bought a book on munchkin gaming. it's amusing ^^ one good joke is:

player: alright, i wanna cast a fireball on the orcs
DM: you're mixed in with the orcs. it'll hit you too.
player: that's ok, i have an amulet of fire resistance.
DM: it will still kill the other players
player: ohhh ... so do I get experience for them?

Elliot Temple on May 24, 2004

Comments (1)

dude, you live in berkeley?? we could be neighbors

never got brave (or bored?) enough to audit a philosophy class tho

Blixa at 12:36 PM on May 25, 2004 | #941

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