All major western countries today contain groups that differ in their religious beliefs, customary practices or ideas about the right way in which to live. How should public policy respond to this diversity? In this important new work, Brian Barry challenges the currently orthodox answer and develops a powerful restatement of an egalitarian liberalism for the twenty-first century.
Until recently it was assumed without much question that cultural diversity could best be accommodated by leaving cultural minorities free to associate in pursuit of their distinctive ends within the limits imposed by a common framework of laws. This solution is rejected by an influential school of political theorists, among whom some of the best known are William Galston, Will Kymlicka, Bhikhu Parekh, Charles Taylor and Iris Marion Young. According to them, this 'difference-blind' conception of liberal equality fails to deliver either liberty or equal treatment. In its place, they propose that the state should 'recognize' group identities, by granting groups exemptions from certain laws, publicly 'affirming' their value, and by providing them with special privileges or subsidies.
In Culture and Equality, Barry offers an incisive critique of these arguments and suggests that theorists of multiculturism tend to misdiagnose the problems of minority groups. Often, these are not rooted in culture, and multiculturalist policies may actually stand in the way of universalistic measures that would be genuinely beneficial.
Brian Barry is Arnold A. Saltzman Professor, Department of Political Science and Department of Philosophy, Columbia University and Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics.
Preface viii Part I Multiculturalism and Equal Treatment 1 Introduction 3 1 Losing Our Way 3 2 The Flight from Enlightenment 9 3 A Brief Overview 17 2 The Strategy of Privatization 19 1 Cultural Diversity 19 2 Privatization and Pluralism 24 3 Equal Treatment 32 4 The Rule-and-Exemption Approach 40 5 A Pragmatic Case for Exemptions 50 6 Culture and Job Discrimination 54 3 The Dynamics of Identity: Assimilation, Acculturation and Difference 63 1 Vive la Difference? 63 2 Liberalism and the 'Ideal of Assimilation' 68 3 Assimilation: Good, Bad or Indifferent? 72 4 Varieties of National Identity 77 5 National Identity in Practice 81 6 The Dodo's Dictum 90 7 The 'Myth of Merit' 98 8 Language and Opportunity 103 Part II Multiculturalism and Groups 4 Theories of Group Rights 112 1 The Concept of a Group Right 112 2 Liberalism and Autonomy 118 3 Liberalism and Diversity 123 4 Cultural Relativism and Toleration 131 5 Outline of a Theory of Group Rights 146 5 Liberal States and Illiberal Religions 155 1 The Claims of Free Association 155 2 An Alternative Approach 162 3 The Limits of Toleration 165 4 In Defence of 'Asymmetry' 169 5 The Amish and the State 176 6 Are Amish Communities Voluntary Associations? 187 6 The Public Stake in the Arts and Education 194 1 The Limits of Laissez-Faire 194 2 Can Liberalism Cope with Children? 199 3 The Locus of Decision-Making 205 4 Functional Education 212 5 Education for Living 221 6 Societal Interests in Education 225 7 Multicultural Education 233 8 Parental Rights in Education 238 Part III Multiculturalism, Universalism and Egalitarianism 7 The Abuse of 'Culture' 252 1 'It's a Part of My Culture' 252 2 Up the Creek in the Black Canoe 258 3 The Equal Value of Cultures 264 4 Does Equal Treatment Require Equal Value? 271 5 The Limits of Conventionalism 279 6 The Limits of Universalism 284 8 The Politics of Multiculturalism 292 1 The Curious Political Success of Multiculturalism 292 2 Multiculturalism versus Democracy 299 3 If Multiculturalism Is the Answer, What Was the Question? 305 4 Culture versus Equality 317 Notes 329 Index 372