Saturday, January 13, 2018

Cultural Relativism and that Illinois frat house

I was told when I was a grad student at the University of Illinois that there was a fraternity on campus that considered a girl's being on the second floor of the frat house with an alcoholic beverage to constitute consent. Isn't the frat house a culture? And if cultural relativism is true, then wouldn't that make raping a girl who came to the second floor with a drink in her hand morally acceptable? 


Jimmy S. M. said...

Yes, if you pay her father 50 shekels.

brownmamba said...

I think the defeater for which proponents of cultural relativism can't give an adequate response is that on cultural relativism, there is no ground to reform one's own culture so as to make moral progress. Proponents may quibble with the frat house example, but the larger point still remains.

I understand the point that in the past, non-western cultures were seen by many as savage and not worthy of preservation, and that this was a moral wrong. However, this does not entail that every culture is immune to criticism. Instead of such an attitude, we can show respect for people of other cultures by holding them to the same ethical standards as we hold ourselves.