June 04, 2007


According to Bhikhu Parekh, the three fundamental assumptions that relativism makes are that:

  1. Individuals are determined, constituted or profoundly shaped by their culture or society, and as a result are unable to rise about its beliefs and modes of thought.
  2. Different societies entertain different bodies of beliefs and we have no means of judging these.
  3. The prevailing system of beliefs and practices best suits its members, who are therefore right to live by it.

However, globalisation brought increased and more profound cultural exchanges that enables people to think outside the patter of their cultures, to accept different criteria of judgement and to improve upon a nation’s life by modifying its received perceptions and moral standards. Thus, globalisation in asserting the validity of different cultures and backing relativism at the same time serves the strongest argument in denying the relevance of relativism.

Reference: Bhikhu Parekh, Non-ethnocentric universalism in Dunne, T. and Wheeler, N. J. (ed.) 1999. Human Rights in Global Politics. Cambridge, CUP

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