Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism

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Harvard University Press, 2002 - Philosophy - 399 pages
Under the tenets of liberalism, it was assumed that cultural diversity could best be accommodated by allowing minority groups to associate in pursuit of their distinctive ends within the limits imposed by a common framework of laws. This policy has been challenged in recent decades by an influential school of political theorists-including William Galston, Will Kymlicka, Bhikhu Parekh, Charles Taylor, and Iris Marion Young-who claim that the "difference-blind" conception of liberal equality fails to deliver either liberty or equal treatment. In its place, they propose that the state should recognize cultural identities by exempting groups from certain laws, publicly affirming the value of the various cultures, and by providing them with special privileges or subsidies. Barry offers an incisive criticism of these arguments and suggests that they tend to misdiagnose the problems of minority groups. He insists on the primacy of equal rights, a standard of fairness that can be shared by all, and acceptance of the fact that the diversity of people's beliefs means that they will often bear disparate costs as a consequence of the very existence of a general and equally applicable law.

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Culture & equality: an egalitarian critique of multiculturalism

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Concerned that rampant multiculturalism is actually dividing people instead of uniting them, Barry (philosophy and political science, Columbia Univ.) has written a comprehensive critique of ... Read full review


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The Public Stake in the Arts and Education
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The Abuse of Culture
The Politics of Multiculturalism

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About the author (2002)

Brian Barry is Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at Columbia University and winner of the 2001 Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science.

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