Study questions on examples of cultural relativism

American superiority? “Battle Over Patriotism Curriculum”

1.      Are American culture, values and political institutions inherently “superior to other foreign or historic cultures?” When teaching about other cultures. should teachers make it clear that the U.S. is “unquestionably superior” to any other society in all human history?

2.      Should this idea be taught to middle school students? Should teachers be require to teach it? Or is it enough to teach our children to “love and honor our country.”

3.      Do you believe in “American exceptionalism?” Does the “history and mission of the United States” make it superior to other nations?

4.      Does America have a unique mission and duty to see that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth?” (from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address)

5.      What is patriotism? Is it virtue? Why might someone think it is not? Can patriotism ever be taken too far? For example? Is unpatriotic behavior ever permissible? Acceptable? For example?

Cruel and unusual punishments? “Men Stoned to Death for Adultery”

6.      Is stoning someone to death as a method of punishment “barbaric,” that is, savagely cruel and uncivilized?

7.      Consider that ordinary people (and perhaps the victim or relatives of the victim) do the stoning. Is it better for the government to administer the punishment?

8.      Consider that by law the stones required to be used are “large enough to cause pain, but not so large as to kill immediately.”

9.      Consider that the majority sentenced to stoning to death are women.

10.    Is the death penalty savagely cruel?

11.    Is the death penalty for adultery excessive?

12.    Is solitary confinement for decades, “locking people alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day”, savagely cruel? (Note that this practice is common in the U.S.)

13.    Is cutting people’s hands off for theft, savagely cruel?

Female genital cutting? “The Ritual: Disfiguring, Hurtful, Wildly Festive” and “Village by Village, Circumcising a Ritual”

14.    If women want to engage in “female circumcision,” or as the critics call it, female genital mulitation,” should they be allowed?

15.    Do people have the right to do what they want with their own bodies?

16.    Is it appropriate for people outside the cultures where female genital cutting is widespread to go into those cultures and try to stop the practice?

17.    Have women who want to undergo this practice been “brainwashed?” Do they understand what they are doing to themselves? Is this a practice they freely perform on themselves?

18.    Consider the defense of this practice as “preserving a tradition from the onslaught of alien cultures.”

19.    Consider that this practice is one of the few ways women in these male dominated societies can act freely and bond together as women bonding.

20.    Is there a moral difference between cutting the genitals of 4 year old girls and woman?

21.    Consider that genital cutting leads to infections, scarring, and a greater chance of miscarriage and pregnancy related death.

22.    Is the prevalence in America of face lifts and breast enlargements similar to the practice of genital cutting?

23.    Is female genital cutting a sexist practice?

Husbands beating wives? “Do Korean Men Still Beat Their Wives? Definitely”

24.    If wives accept that their husbands may beat them, does that make it permissible?

25.    Is wife battering prevalent in America?

26.    How does South Carolina do in violence against women?

Women wearing a veil in public? “Should there be restrictions on wearing the niqab?

27.    France has barred wearing the niqab and Britain is considering it as is Canada. Should the U.S. bar wearing it?

28.    Is banning the veil, a sign of prejudice against Muslims and based on the idea that there is a sinister spread of Islam around the world that needs to be stopped?

29.    Is wearing of the niqab sexist? Why or why not?

30.    Are many Muslim women forced to wear the niqab.

31.    Is banning the niqab an infringement on religious freedom.


32.    What is tolerance? Is it a virtue? Is it ever wrong to be tolerant? What is intolerance? Is it a vice. Should one ever be intolerant?