Legal Theory 3 (1):65-99 (1997)

The concept of “difference” forms the core of contemporary attacks on “liberal legalism” and is central to proposals for replacing it. Critics charge that liberal law quashes difference because it grounds political equality and individual rights in the assumption that all persons share certain “samenesses,” such as rationality or autonomy. In the words of the philosopher Iris Marion Young, “liberal individualism denies difference by positing the self as a solid, self-sufficient unity, not defined by or in need of anything or anyone other than itself.” The claim is that this “sameness”-based vision of equality is in fact an exercise of power, reflecting a highly specific model of personhood that was constructed by and for a white male elite and ensures its continued social dominance. Liberalism's critics conclude that the achievement of social justice will be possible only when sameness-based conceptions of equality are rejected.
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DOI 10.1017/S1352325200000641
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