The Instigator
Crostesh
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
izz0
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Some cultures are better than others.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/17/2018 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 884 times Debate No: 112923
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (0)

 

Crostesh

Pro

It is my standpoint that some cultures are simply better than others. Humanity consists of a broad church of peoples and cultures that have been shaped throughout history by socio-political events. But it is my understanding that cultures have developed to differing degrees, with some being far advanced to others. Culture here is defined as the collective learned beliefs, values, and customs that regulate the behavior of members of a particular society.

I argue that a cultures' position in this hypothetical hierarchy can be determined by assessing 3 measures:
1) How free the people within said culture are. (This could be undertaken similarly to how annual freedom of the world indices are published).
2) How socially, economically and politically advanced a society is where that culture is dominant.
3) How harmonious/conflictual a culture is when it engages with cultures where it is trailing in categories 1) and 2).

Admittedly I view Western culture (though it contains many diverse sub-cultures) as the dominant and leading standard of culture. I do not believe that it is perfect or utopian, but it is better than competing cultures using my above 3 measures. Cultural hegemony exists throughout the world. It should not be a taboo issue, but one that is highlighted to protect positive cultural values and customs, and work towards fixing the bad.

I invite someone with an opposing view to present a case which disputes mine. While I have not used specific examples in this opening round I will in further rounds, should they occur. I used this round purely to state my standpoint on the topic.
izz0

Con

I'd like to first address the ways you said you like to measure a culture's hierarchy. In your first point you said: "How free the people within said culture are". However, freedom is not governed by one's culture. Culture is defined by the dictionary as "the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular social group". There's no part of a culture that might change someone's personal freedom. Therefore, this part of your argument is invalid. The right to act, speak, or think is not effected by one's culture so it is not an effective way to rank a culture.

In your second point what you stated was "How socially, economically, and politically advanced a society is where that culture is dominate". I disagree with this being a good way to size up a culture. Politics and economics, by definition, is NOT a direct factor in a culture. Thus, you cannot use this to accurately class a culture.

If you wanted to rank a culture you would have to take into consideration "art, customs, social institutions, and achievements" from that culture. However, can you really rank that kind of stuff using facts and statistics and not using opinion? Culture is not something that can be looked at with statistics and facts, therefore you cannot rank cultures and there is no way, except by opinion, that one culture could be considered better or worse than others.
Debate Round No. 1
Crostesh

Pro

Thank you for challenging me izz0. I'm going to start this round by addressing the points you made in you attempt to refute my views. Firstly, your definition of culture, while accurate seems to be used with the assumption/tone that my given definition in round one was incorrect. I stated that "Culture here is defined as the collective learned beliefs, values, and customs that regulate the behavior of members of a particular society." This is not at odds with your definition or the other accurate definitions of the word culture. In the dictionary culture is defined as "the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: [e.g.] drug culture, youth culture." [1] There are many other relevant definitions here such as "a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period" and "the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc." [1]

It is a sociological belief that culture is a source of human freedom because as social creatures humans make and remake themselves. Society is the collective of people who interact in a defined territory and culture. Will Kymlicka [2] argues that individual freedom is linked with memberships of social cultures, and that while all cultures have a desirable right to exist these cultures can be at odds with traditional liberal values. Therefore it is na"ve to ignore cultural impact upon freedom. We know of Islamic cultures which repress those outside of their theocratic world view [3]. We know of various drug and subcultures where death is rife. Such was the Chinese cultural revolution entwined in the social, economical and political realms that their society collapsed.

Round 3: objectivity & harms
[1] http://www.dictionary.com...
[2] https://books.google.co.uk...
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org...
izz0

Con

By restating the definition of culture I was not trying to imply that your definition was wrong. I was just trying to use that to emphasize my point. Sorry if it sounded like I disagreed with you. Thanks for taking the time to debate with me.

In the Islamic culture, women are expected to wear a hijab. Someone from the Western culture might see this as being repressive because we believe freedom is the right to do what ever you want. However, in Islamic culture many women feel like wearing a hijab is a form of freedom because it gives them the right to keep their privacy and modesty. My point is that what is considered freedom can be drastically different from culture to culture.

From 1881 to 1914 during the Scramble for Africa the people in Western culture believed that taking over African territories and enslaving black people was their duty. To them, African culture was an unsanitary and poor society that needed to be "cultured" and "civilized". They believed that it was their duty to westernize African people because Western culture was superior over African culture[1]. Would it have been fair to then conclude that African culture is worse than Western culture because of the Europeans beliefs? We cannot justly rank cultures based off of personal beliefs.

Maybe one would dislike African culture because they believe that their culture is financially and politically unstable. Maybe someone from African culture would dislike Western culture because they believe their culture is selfish and over powered. The point is, everyone has different opinions on what they like or dislike about other cultures. A culture's political views, economic views, or personal values might not be the same as another culture's. Something that one person might view as bad, might be seen different by someone else. In the end it's all about perspective and opinion and we cannot fairly rank cultures based off of this.

_______
[1] http://ux.brookdalecc.edu...
Debate Round No. 2
Crostesh

Pro

No worries, thanks for clearing that up, I appreciate it.

Of course there are elements of subjectivity involved, your example of the hijab in Islamic culture is a prime instance of this. There are many other specific cultural aspects that can be subjectively critiqued this way such as segregation in certain religious practices and the attitudes towards minorities in certain circles. I therefore accept that what is considered freedom differs depending on the cultural viewpoint.

I do believe that it is perfectly natural to acknowledge that certain cultures breed actual real world harms that go beyond the cultural differences defence. The many cultures around the globe that persecute LGBT people for example is an undeniable harm [1], a truly undesirable product of certain cultures. Also the presence of FGM present in certain cultures is developed out of religious and/or traditional reasoning within these cultures [2]. Other harms include: slavery, censorship, rape, honour killings, extremism etc. Perhaps the 1st of my 3 points for ranking cultures should have made an explicit point about these harms in the context of freedom.

Your second example of the Scramble to Africa is also a reasonable point. Western culture, like all cultures has a dark past and present. Because a culture views themselves as superior it does not grant them power over others, rather the goal should be to better their own culture and work towards eliminating societal harms. It is a normal aspect of life to assess other cultures and we do this everyday, sometimes unconsciously. Of course this is subjective and while my three point plan may seem like an attempt to objectify cultural hegemony, it should instead be considered as natural assessments people regularly apply to other cultures in judgement. I believe this is fair and honest.

Thanks for the debate.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.who.int...
izz0

Con


There’s no way I could defend the argument with extremes. No one can say that killing, suppression, slavery, etc., isn’t bad. So let’s bring it back down to the less extremes. Take America’s and England’s cultures for an example. If you asked someone who was not from either culture (someone without a biased opinion) to rank one over the other, they’re likely going to tell you that they think the two cultures are too similar to rank. However, someone from England’s culture would think American culture was very different from their own, and vice versa. When you get down to the small details, it’s clear that this is all about perspective and opinion. How people act, what they wear, what music they listen to, the kind of art they like is not something that can be ranked with statistics.



To conclude my debate, it can’t be fair to rank a culture as better or worse then another. The words 'bad' and 'good' are words of opinion and you can’t base a valid argument off of this. Personal values and beliefs vary from culture to culture as well as from person to person. Culture is not just defined by political influence and economic influence but also by art and music. Culture as a whole just can't be ranked.



Thank you for debating with me, Crostesh!


Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by mosc 3 years ago
mosc
Any thing beats the cultures of the sub human European barbarians who murdered 10s of millions of people in the last century simply b/c they could.
Posted by Amphia 3 years ago
Amphia
Thank you so much izz0.
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