cultural relativism

(redirected from Anthropological relativism)


a philosophical system that considers truth to be dependent on individual persons, cultural contexts, times, or places.
cultural relativism the understanding of distinct cultures and lifestyles within the context of each culture; the behaviors of a cultural group are evaluated in the context of that specific culture, from an impartial perspective, rather than according to the standards of some other culture.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Anthropological relativism was promoted as a refutation of the noxious notion that any racial, ethnic, or cultural group is inherently superior to another.
The major criticism against the position of empirical, anthropological relativism and skepticism lies along, first, Humean arguments which maintain that ethical values are intrinsically distinct and different in kind from observed facts, that there is a significant distinction between "the ought" and "the is," values and facts, between morality and science.
What might have been a jumble of intellectual movements and colorful minor figures--abolitionism, nineteenth-century race theory, the rise of statistics and probability theory, Social Darwinism, cultural pluralism, legal realism, anthropological relativism, experimental psychology, academic professionalism, progressive education, the settlement-house movement, the Pullman strike, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Louis Agassiz, Benjamin Pierce, Henry Livermore Abbott, Chauncey Wright, Hetty Robinson, Alain Locke--is instead a subtle weave of entertaining narrative and astute interpretation.