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ANTHROPOLOGY: What is it?



Daryl DeBell confronts his dilemma:

"I believe value judgments are ubiquitous and my use of the word 'lackey' carried more than a hint of my disapproval of Hitler's subservient followers, but it was a poor choice of words because Hitler's followers were much more likely to have been either terrified not to follow him, or true believers. I, too, would like to believe that there are absolute moral standards, and my choice comes fairly close to the golden rule and some of its variations. I am less comfortable with the 'absolute' adjective than I might be because it urges us in the direction of considering our own standard to be that 'absolute'.

Linda Nyquist's account of her anthropological experience poses very difficult questions. It could well be that she would rather help people that observe them. In her situation I would agree that observation and understanding of the plight of those people hardly seems worth the price of letting them suffer and die. Her superiors, and perhaps the anthropological ethic of the time, seem to be seriously misguided to say the least."

My comment: I did not say that our own standard is absolute, but I believe it points in the right direction. It is the task of ethics to go beyond our present standard.

Ronald Hilton - 8/30/00


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