Versita

HUMAN RIGHTS AND CULTURAL IDENTITY

John-Stewart Gordon
Keywords: Human rights, cultural identity, clash of civilizations, moral universalism, moral relativism ,

Abstract

Universal human rights and particular cultural identities, which are relativistic by nature, seem to stand in conflict with each other. It is commonly suggested that the relativistic natures of cultural identities undermine universal human rights and that human rights might compromise particular cultural identities in a globalised world. This article examines this supposed clash and suggests that it is possible to frame a human rights approach in such a way that it becomes the starting point and constraining framework for all non-deficient cultural identities. In other words, it is possible to depict human rights in a culturally sensitive way so that universal human rights can meet the demands of a moderate version of meta-ethical relativism which acknowledges a small universal core of objectively true or false moral statements and avers that, beyond that small core, all other moral statements are neither objectively true nor false.