Human Rights and Relativism

Tue, 26 Apr 1994 17:09:50 CST

I want to register my agreement with D. Read and disagreement with R.
Scupin. If I wanted to devote my professional live to changing "harmful
practices" of other societies I certainly would not have become an
anthropologist! The effort by Hatch and others to construct and even
implement a universal moral standard is laudable, perhaps, as a moral
and political undertaking. I don't think it is very original (What's
wrong with the UN Charter?); and I certainly have heard nothing which
persuades me that it is anthropological. When Napoleon Chagnon forced a
Yanomamo woman to feed a female infant she appeared to be systematically
starving to death, he was perhaps doing a good thing; but I don't see
anything anthropological about it. And Ray, how on earth can you
suppose that your judging a custom harmful--immoral, you really mean,
don't you?--can help but impede your ability to describe and explain it?
--Bob Graber