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Thesis abstract

Treating Cultural Commitments Fairly: A Cosmopolitan Account of Multicultural Justice

This work explores the relationship between liberal philosophy and the politics of cultural diversity. It proposes a normative theory - the fair treatment of cultural commitments argument - regarding how liberalism should respond to the fact of multiculturalism, examining the conditions under which special forms of accommodation for minorities might be necessary, and evaluating which demands can (and cannot) be rightly made on behalf of holders of minority cultural commitments. The argument is grounded on a moderate cosmopolitan ontology, and this distinguishes the approach from a number of alternative approaches to similar issues. This ontology rejects the view that cultural communities are bearers of moral value, and instead holds that culture should affect our considerations of liberal justice at the level of individually held cultural commitments. Such commitments matter because they can be the objects of unfair treatment even in societies governed according to ostensibly neutral procedures, and because the unfair treatment of cultural commitments can constitute an injustice. The argument has three major aims. First, to demonstrate why and how matters of culture and identity should inform our moral, legal and political reasoning. Second, to demonstrate why and how the unfair treatment of cultural commitments can be unjust. Third, to explore the implications of this for our theories of justice more generally. This is achieved, in particular, by configuring a particular (moderate cosmopolitan) conception of citizenship that is compatible with group-differentiated rights, and through a related examination of the demands of equality and toleration in conditions of cultural diversity.

This page last modified 26 September, 2012 by UCL Mellon Admin

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