Multiculturalism and the challenge of pluralism

Philosophy and Social Criticism 37 (4):505-516 (2011)
Abstract
Today we can identify two challenges of pluralism: the ever-growing conflicts between religious, national and ethnic groups on the one hand and the oppression of dissenting individuals by their respective communities on the other hand. Both intercommunitarian and intracommunitarian conflicts find their origin in a communitarian conception of our political, cultural, or religious identities. After presenting some of the problems of the communitarian solution in particular with regard to the challenge of internal pluralism, I introduce alternative conceptions of multiculturalism that consider our commitments to be part of our personal or individual identity. Distinguishing a conception of identity based upon self-knowledge from liberal, postmodern theories (Richard Rorty) and alternative non-cognitive theories (Bernard Williams) that consider identity to be individual in nature, I propose that the awareness of the individual nature of commitments makes it possible for us not to impose our values upon other individuals who do not share them while at the same time justifying the multicultural project
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