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Are Ethics Relative to Diverse Cultures?

Essay by   •  October 6, 2012  •  Essay  •  1,212 Words (5 Pages)  •  845 Views

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Ethics are the fundamental principles and basic concepts of correct human conduct. Ethics include the studies of universal values such as human rights, social equality, law, health, safety and also include the studies of the natural environment. "The Challenge of Cultural Relativism" by Rachels states that cultures can have different morals and ethical standards from one another. Moral practices in some cultures can differ widely from each other. What is morally acceptable in one culture can be considered inappropriate in another . It is for this reason that individuals must have an open mind when observing other culture's moral practices. For example American and Middle Eastern cultures have different moral values from one another.

The most striking difference between American and Middle Eastern culture is the approach toward relationships. In American culture relationships can prove to be very superficial in comparison to Middle Eastern cultures. Both men and women are judged by the way they are dressed, if they are well dressed or well spoken they can even be considered homosexual. Many individuals do not seek family approval in making both life and relationship decisions. This can be beneficial as it provides freedom of choice however in some circumstances it leaves people deprived of strong bonds with their closest family members. Individualism is a very strong focal point in American culture. In the article "American Culture" by McMahan, McMahan outlines that Individualism does not mean that Americans have no regard for others, but instead have a high priority of their own personal ambitions. The focus is more on the individual's wants, dreams and choices. Respect is only given to those who show them respect. "Body Ritual Among the Nacirema" by Miner uses an etic perspective to show a cultural analysis and provides a biased outlook on a different culture. Miner's thesis is that the "Nacirema" are a group of people that base their lives around their physical appearances and particular rituals. Although Miner's viewpoints seem bias, the points made throughout the reading are relevant to America culture.

The Culture of the United States does not only contain characteristics of superficiality. The population originates from different homelands, each with a variety of customs, traditions and foods. McMahan also states that one of the first questions Americans ask each other is "What do you do?" most people in America define who they are by what they do for work. In other cultures people may define themselves by relation of their family lineage or religious beliefs, however in America work is a central part of an individual's identity. American citizens care about individual freedom or in other words Individualism as well as equal opportunity and fair treatment regardless of differences. Private property ownership and the right to have an education are also considered ethical values that have helped define American culture.

Middle Eastern culture has many different aspects as opposed to American culture. Family plays a major role in the culture of the Middle East. Family is most important. Due to this, Middle Eastern people spend a substantial amount of time with their families. According to an article "Difference between American and Middle Eastern Culture" By Tehrani Middle Eastern people are known to; visit each other very often and even if someone is away, that particular person is expected to call everyday. Masculinity/Femininity is also a very important ethical value in Middle Eastern culture. In the Middle East, men take pride in both their masculinity and who they are. From a Middle Eastern perspective, women are expected to raise

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