This comment was from RLN on the post Headscarves and Men Holding Hands: Coming Out as a Cultural Relativist
In philosophical circles, “moral relativism” is a theory that entails that if you think “We should be tolerant of other people” and I think “We should bomb the sh*t out of everyone that we feel like” then we can both right and so there is nothing that can settle the difference. Moral relativism doesn’t require any sort of policy on tolerance since anyone can simply chose to value tolerance or not and furthermore there can’t be any reasons for preferring one set of value claims to another (except maybe “my value claims are better because they are mine”). But once we take on board the very plausible claim that “I can give you good reasons for being more tolerant” then we have already taken on board a pretty significant ethical stance. Your use of the term “cultural relativism” might just be a case where the same word is used to mean two completely different concepts. Again, no matter what the subject matter, philosophers generally think that something is ‘relative’ if and only if a) two agents can disagree about some fact about the world b) mean the same thing and c) there is nothing that would settle the matter. In the case of cultural norms, I’m not sure why this would hold. If you tell me that “In India, women wear red to wedding ceremonies to signify wealth” and I say “In India, women wear red to wedding ceremonies to signify harlotry”, I would probably be the one in the wrong and an anthropologist who actually did some research could give me some good reasons for this assessment. I don’t think this is how you are using the term ‘relativism’.