Brian Barry and the Headscarf Case in France

Contemporary Political Theory 5 (2):176-192 (2006)

Brian Barry's Culture and Equality is probably the most powerful liberal egalitarian critique of multiculturalism addressing the pathologies of recognizing difference of ethnicity, religion, race, and culture. In this essay, I examine Barry's approach to the law, which underpins his theory of egalitarianism to determine whether it is enough — as Barry thinks it is — to insist on either applying the same law for everyone so that exemptions are foreclosed in general, or repealing the law since the case for its existence is not justified. I find that Barry's effort is inadequate. Because the conditions for exemptions are not specified, exemptions are merely defensible, not just. Using the headscarf controversy in France to illustrate why Barry's approach backfires, I argue how enforcing the same law for all leads to undermining the very politics of redistribution that Barry champions
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DOI 10.1057/palgrave.cpt.9300229
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Are There Any Cultural Rights?Chandran Kukathas - 1992 - Political Theory 20 (1):105-139.

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