Equal Recognition

Equal Recognition: The Moral Foundations of Minority Rights

Alan Patten
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Equal Recognition
    Book Description:

    Conflicting claims about culture are a familiar refrain of political life in the contemporary world. On one side, majorities seek to fashion the state in their own image, while on the other, cultural minorities press for greater recognition and accommodation. Theories of liberal democracy are at odds about the merits of these competing claims. Multicultural liberals hold that particular minority rights are a requirement of justice conceived of in a broadly liberal fashion. Critics, in turn, have questioned the motivations, coherence, and normative validity of such defenses of multiculturalism. InEqual Recognition, Alan Patten reasserts the case in favor of liberal multiculturalism by developing a new ethical defense of minority rights.

    Patten seeks to restate the case for liberal multiculturalism in a form that is responsive to the major concerns of critics. He describes a new, nonessentialist account of culture, and he rehabilitates and reconceptualizes the idea of liberal neutrality and uses this idea to develop a distinctive normative argument for minority rights. The book elaborates and applies its core theoretical framework by exploring several important contexts in which minority rights have been considered, including debates about language rights, secession, and immigrant integration.

    Demonstrating that traditional, nonmulticultural versions of liberalism are unsatisfactory,Equal Recognitionwill engage readers interested in connections among liberal democracy, nationalism, and current multicultural issues.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5043-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xvi)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Liberalism and the Accommodation of Cultural Diversity
    (pp. 1-37)

    Conflicting claims about culture are a familiar refrain of political life in the contemporary world. On the one side, majorities seek to fashion the state in their own image. They want to see their own values, traditions, norms, and identity expressed in meaningful ways in public institutions. From the majority’s perspective, the expression of their culture in collective decisions is simply a matter of majority rule or democracy. It is normal for states to be shaped by the majority’s culture, and there is nothing objectionable about such shaping so long as certain liberal limits are observed on how it is...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Rethinking Culture: The Social Lineage Account
    (pp. 38-68)

    Normative theories of multiculturalism have come under attack in recent years for a number of reasons. Many critics challenge the positive arguments offered on behalf of multicultural policies, questioning whether the values of liberal democracy entail that the state ought to recognize and accommodate the distinctive concerns of minority cultures.¹ Others highlight the potential costs of multicultural policies. Even if such policies do promote liberal democratic values in some respects, they compromise those same values in other respects. Familiar formulations of this second form of critique suggest that multiculturalism is “bad for women,” that it ghettoizes vulnerable minorities, and that...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Why Does Culture Matter?
    (pp. 69-103)

    Having explored the concepts of culture and cultural preservation in some detail, I turn in this chapter to the more directly normative question of why culture matters. In posing this question, I am specifically interested in understanding the nature of the burden or disadvantage that individuals would bear in the event that their culture were to fare poorly. In what ways would people be disadvantaged if the preservation or enjoyment of their culture were in jeopardy?

    Consider again the story of Misael, the migrant member of the Machiguenga culture whom we encountered in the previous chapter. Suppose that he laments...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Liberal Neutrality: A Reinterpretation and Defense
    (pp. 104-148)

    In this chapter and the next I develop an account of the moral foundations of minority cultural rights that revolves around two main claims. The first holds that the liberal state has a responsibility to be neutral toward the various conceptions of the good that are affirmed by its citizens. The second claims that, in certain domains, the most promising way for the state to discharge its responsibility of neutrality is by extending and protecting specific minority cultural rights. Although various qualifications and provisos are introduced along the way, and the rights that are justified are constrained in certain important...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Equal Recognition
    (pp. 149-185)

    Consider some minority culture that is faring poorly. It may be that particular practices associated with the culture are disappearing, or that there is some sense in which the culture as a whole has entered into decline. As I suggested in chapter 2, this second scenario would arise if the institutions and practices that had functioned historically to socialize new generations into the culture were being gradually superseded by formative processes associated with the majority culture.

    The question that I shall explore picks up where chapter 3 left off. Under what conditions, if any, are there reasons for thinking that...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Equal Recognition and Language Rights
    (pp. 186-231)

    Every society in the world is characterized by at least some degree of linguistic diversity. This is obvious in countries such as Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, India, South Africa, and Nigeria, where more than a fifth of the population are members of historically rooted ethnolinguistic minorities. But even societies that like to think of themselves as having a single national language are home to significant language minorities. In the United States Census of 2000, for example, about forty-seven million residents over the age of five reported using a language other than English in their homes—roughly 18 percent of all...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Democratic Secession from a Multinational State
    (pp. 232-268)

    When Woodrow Wilson advanced the principle of self-determination in a series of speeches in 1918–1919, he assumed that acknowledging the claims of self-determination was a simple corollary of respect for democracy. Contemporary secessionists, and many who write and theorize about secession, share Wilson’s intuition about this. It is widely claimed that a people has the right to determine democratically its own political status, so long as any change is peaceful and orderly, is consistent with standard liberal rights, and does not involve any unjust taking of territory or unfair terms of separation.¹ Whatever the considerations are that count in...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Immigrants, National Minorities, and Minority Rights
    (pp. 269-298)

    In 2002 an activist named Abou Jahjah gave an interview to the Belgian magazineKnackthat caused a storm of controversy. Jahjah’s organization, the Arab-European-League, had made notorious remarks applauding the September 11 attacks on the United States and calling for the elimination of the state of Israel. But this time Jahjah’s remarks were much closer to home for his Belgian audience. Jahjah demanded that Arabic be recognized as Belgium’s fourth national language. He argued that, by offering official status to French-, Dutch-, and German-speakers but not to the country’s hundreds of thousands of Arabic-speakers, Belgium was violating norms of...

    (pp. 299-310)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 311-327)