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Relativism, Cultural

Relativism is an idea that can be traced back to ancient times. In the twentieth century, the theory of relativity in the field of theoretical physics had a profound effect on the social sciences. Through the pioneering scholarship of physicist turned anthropologist Franz Boas (1858–1942), students at Columbia University were exposed to the radical notion that one's position in the world shapes one's perceptions of physical and social facts. Boas's students, Ruth Benedict (1887–1948) and Melville Herskovits (1895–1963), continued his work, championing the theory of cultural relativism. The relativistic approach has strongly influenced the ways in which scholars have approached the study of law and legal systems in part by challenging the existence of objective morality. Cultural relativity is one of the main ideas associated ...

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