CULTURAL REASONING AND RELATIVISM: Uses and Interpretations

CULTURAL REASONING AND RELATIVISM: Uses and Interpretations
March 30th, 3:30-5:30pm
Newcomb Hall Room 389

The interface between systems of beliefs and systems of laws creates complementary and contradictory actions. Belief systems, as prescribed by culture, do not always coincide with laws of religion or the state. As Steven Lukes writes, “the distinction between what is moral and what is conventional is complex, contingent, and historically shifting.” (Lukes 2008:83). These shifts occur in the face of normative behavior, which can also be divergent from codes of conduct. Normative behavior that is invested with moral significance differs not only within, but also across populations that interact with each other. Furthermore, as rules in a society may change, belief systems may stay the same; conversely, as belief systems change, laws and rules may stay the same. This panel will question the ways in which distinctions of codes of conduct, systems of belief and law, and normative behavior are made, and when such concepts overlap. We will consider how, and for what purposes, do we classify moral and conventional norms, when actions are divergent from norms in and across diverse social settings and what defines and differentiates belief-dictated actions versus law-dictated actions. Through the lens of moral relativism, this panel will explore how we are to speak of the divisions within and across societies between rules and codes on one hand, and actions on the other.

Participants:
Professor John Nemec, Department of Religious Studies
On Law and Custom in Some Sanskrit Indian Tales: Rogues, Brahmins and Kings in the Kathasaritsagara and Rajatarangini
Matt Tirrigan, Department of Philosophy graduate student
The Philosophical Merits of Cultural Relativism
Katey Blumenthal, Department of Anthropology graduate student
The Circulation of Loba Songs: Communication of the Social and Ecological Environment in Lo Monthang, Nepal
Professor Allan Megill, Department of History
On the Non-Relevance of Moral Relativism to the Historical Discipline: A Brief Comment

Professor Ravindra Khare, Department of Anthropology
Moderator

The Event is open and free to the public.

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