On Multiculturalism's Biases

Inquiry 22 (2):15-19 (2003)
This paper starts by acknowledging that pragmatists agree with multiculturalists when they assert that individuals are grounded in local communities that give rise to different ways of seeing the world. Where pragmatists part company with many multiculturalists, however, is in our willingness to carry through with the logic entailed in this claim. When pragmatists assert that all ways of knowing are situated, we mean fully situated. In our view, multiculturalists can ask their auditors to celebrate or tolerate differences, but they cannot claim to be multicultural (in the strongest sense of that word) because they necessarily read, write and think from a set of provincial assumptions not global ones. The conclusion a pragmatist draws from this is simple: Multicultural discourse (whether it be conservative, liberal or radical) will always be biased and limited because its knowledge claims are necessarily grounded in a historical and local context that guarantees a limited understanding of ofher cultures
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