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. (shrink)
Almost every country today contains adherents of different religions and different secular conceptions of the good life. Is there any alternative to a power struggle among them, leading most probably to either civil war or repression? The argument of this book is that justice as impartiality offers a solution. According to the theory of justice as impartiality, principles of justice are those principles that provide a reasonable basis for the unforced assent of those subject to them. The object of this (...) book is to set the theory out, explain its rationale, and respond to a variety of criticism that have been made of it. As the second volume of his work-in-progress, A Treatise on Social Justice, this work lies at the heart of a thriving academic debate which the author has played a key role in shaping. (shrink)
This reprint of a collection of essays on problems concerning future generations examines questions such as whether intrinsic value should be placed on the preservation of mankind, what are our obligations to posterity, and whether potential people have moral rights.
Since its publication in 1965, Brian Barry's seminal work has occupied an important role in the revival of Anglo-American political philosophy. A number of ideas and terms in it have become part of the standard vocabulary, such as the distinction between "ideal-regarding" and "want-regarding" principles and the division of principles into aggregative and distributive. The book provided the first precise analysis of the concept of political values having trade-off relations and its analysis of the notion of the public interest has (...) also been significant. (shrink)
Even if we do not observe those who own or manage capital doing anything, are there nevertheless good reasons for saying that they have power over government? My thesis is that, on any analysis of `power over others' that enables us to say that voters have power over those elected and that consumers have power over producers, we also have to say that those who own or control capital have power over government. Conversely, the reasons that can be given (and (...) have been given) for denying that owners of capital have power over governments would be equally good reasons for denying that voters have power over governments and that consumers have power over producers. Key Words: power capitalism democracy. (shrink)
For over twenty years, Brian Barry has been writing on the foundations of a liberal-democratic constitutional order. Standing against the trend towards relativism in political philosophy, Barry offers a contemporary restatement of the Enlightenment idea that certain basic principles can validly claim the allegiance of every reasonable human being.
After 1945, liberalism in a broad sense that I shall define in a moment, became an almost unquestioned basis of thinking about politics in English-speaking political philosophy. Over the past twenty years or so, however, this liberalism has been subjected to a number of challenges. Many of these can be brought under the umbrella of ‘multiculturalism’. The kind of claim typically made in the name of multiculturalism — or, as it is sometimes called, the ‘politics of difference’ — is that (...) the self-image of liberalism as a tolerant and open creed is inaccurate. In fact, it is said, liberalism imposes a false universality that discriminates against minorities of all kinds.The most systematic statement of this set of ideas that I know of is to be found in a book by the American political theorist Iris Marion Young, entitled Justice and the Politics of Difference. I shall take this as my text, when I need to refer to one. But I should add that there are many other sources for the same ideas, especially in the United States. (shrink)
Since its publication in 1965 _Political Argument_ has come to be recognized as occupying a key position in the revival of Anglo-American political philosophy. A number of the ideas introduced by Barry have become part of the standard vocabulary, such as the distinction between ideal-regarding and want-regarding principles and the division of principles into aggregative and distributive. _Political Argument_ provided the first precise analysis, still frequently cited, of the conception that political values have trade-off relations; the analysis of the notion (...) of the public interest has also enjoyed wide influence. For this long-awaited reprint, the author has prepared a substantial, new introductory essay in which he recounts the process of writing the book and sets it in the intellectual milieu of its time. He then offers extensive comments on the subsequent fate of some of the leading ideas and assesses the book in light of criticisms and later developments. Finally, Barry evaluates current approaches to political philosophy as they look today. This new edition of _Political Argument_ will interest political theorists, philosophers, economists, and a range of other scholars. Brilliant and incisive, it will engender discussion and debate from many quarters. (shrink)
As the author of Justice as Impartiality, I am not ashamed to admit that I was delighted by the liveliness of the discussion generated by it at the meeting on which this symposium is based. I am likewise grateful to the six authors for finding the book worthy of the careful attention that they have bestowed on it. Between them, the symposiasts take up many more points than I can cover in this response. I shall therefore focus on some themes (...) that cluster round the contractual device that I associate with the notion of justice as impartiality. Is it necessary? If it is not necessary is it nevertheless useful? Within an overall contractual framework is the form of contract that I propose uniquely justifiable? And does the form of contract that I defend generate the implications that I claim for it? (shrink)
This article examines Russell Hardin's interpretation of Hume's argument that great social order depends on coordination convention. The main argument shows that despite an apparent move in that direction Hume's main argument is that justice and the other convention-based virtues rest on a cooperative convention which solves a prisoner's dilemma problem and that states are required when a society exceeds some small size because only states can solve the large number prisoner's dilemma problems that constitute the 'problem of social order'. (...) In this Hume's argument is indebted to the original form of this argument found in Hobbes's Leviathan. (shrink)
What is social justice? In _Theories of Justice_ Brian Barry provides a systematic and detailed analysis of two kinds of answers. One is that justice arises from a sense of the advantage to everyone of having constraints on the pursuit of self-interest. The other answer connects the idea of justice with that of impartiality. Though the first book of a trilogy, _Theories of Justice_ stands alone and constitutes a major contribution to the debate about social justice that began in 1971 (...) with Rawls's _A Theory of Justice_. (shrink)
In response to criticisms made by Keith Dowding (hereafter KD) of `Capitalists Rule OK', this article argues (1) that there is a genuine structural conflict of interest between consumers and producers, voters and politicians, and capitalists and governments, and (2) that only by ad hoc and arbitrary limitations on the scope of the concept of power can it be denied that consumers collectively have power over producers and capitalists (collectively) have power over government. KD accepts that voters (collectively) have power (...) over governments. Ironically, however, this is by far the most tenuous and generally problematic of the three putative power relations. Furthermore, there is no plausible way of conceding that voters (collectively) have power over politicians without also having to accept the validity of a power relation in the other two cases. The implication is that the thesis that is supposed to justify the standard North American or western European politico-economic system, according to which consumers and voters have power but capitalists do not, is nothing more than ideology, in Marx's sense of a fantastical picture of the world designed by the beneficiaries of the status quo to protect their privileged positions against legitimate demands for revolutionary change. The article concludes by taking up KD's primary objection to `Capitalists Rule', which is its rejection of the proposal to equate power with resources. According to KD's official definition, `resources' are the means of raising and lowering others' utilities. I pointed out in `Capitalists Rule' that KD himself acknowledges the inadequacy of this definition, since he almost immediately goes on to say that people do not necessarily have the power that is attributed to them. Obviously, `power' in this new sense must be something different, and is, in fact, the ability to get people to do what you want them to do or to refrain from doing things you do not want them to do. This is precisely my own proposed definition in `Capitalists Rule'. The only remaining disagreement arises from KD's wish to turn everything that lies between power in his first sense and power in his second (and my) sense into a further `resource'. I argue that this is obfuscatory and, in any case, infeasible. Key Words: power democracy capitalism. (shrink)