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By Xiaorong Li (auth.)

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Additional resources for Ethics, Human Rights and Culture: Beyond Relativism and Universalism

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MacIntyre, 1981, p. 263) MacIntyre’s account of tradition, at least as I read it, however, need not take him to such panic reactions to what he perceives as ‘barbarians’ – un-reflective persons of certain cultural or religious background, presumably non-Christian or non-Western. If this account is meant to be a description of the Christian tradition, then, there is no reasons to believe that other traditions are ‘barbarian’ or un-reflective. Traditionembedded persons everywhere engage in social learning from inherited knowledge and from experiences as well.

On the one hand, the unconventional person may be persuasive and change some people’s perspective. Together, they may gradually gain enough support to abandoning the custom. In the case that an adherent to the custom cites it as the cause of his judgment and action, it is reasonable to ask whether such a custom is still in accordance with the rationale of caring for the survival of the community, which supported the custom in the first place. One might reasonably further question whether other motives or rationales (than the traditional rationale) played a role in a person’s decision to adhere to such a custom.

One thing is sure: they cannot rely on the cultural tradition as the cause of the action. If nothing else, taking this short cut is intellectual laziness at the expense of accuracy. Understanding a tradition, including its internal diversities and clashing views in its historical course and contemporary debates, as among the situational factors in the relevant context, however, does shed some light on why and how variously situated members of a tradition have acted or made judgments in specific fashions.

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