Culture, Citizenship, and Community: A Contextual Exploration of Justice as Evenhandedness

Culture, Citizenship, and Community: A Contextual Exploration of Justice as Evenhandedness

Culture, Citizenship, and Community: A Contextual Exploration of Justice as Evenhandedness

Culture, Citizenship, and Community: A Contextual Exploration of Justice as Evenhandedness

Synopsis

This book contributes to contemporary debates about multiculturalism and democratic theory by reflecting upon the ways in which claims about culture and identity are actually advanced by immigrants, national minorities, aboriginals and other groups in a number of different societies. Carensadvocates a contextual approach to theory that explores the implications of theoretical views for actual cases, reflects on the normative principles embedded in practice, and takes account of the ways in which differences between societies matter. He argues that this sort of contextual approach willshow why the conventional liberal understanding of justice as neutrality needs to be supplemented by a conception of justice as evenhandedness and why the conventional conception of citizenship is an intellectual and moral prison from which we can be liberated by an understanding of citizenship thatis more open to multiplicity and that grows out of practices we judge to be just and beneficial.

Excerpt

This book is concerned with the relevance of culture and identity to justice, citizenship, and political community. As a whole, the book provides a (partial) map of where and how a concern for equality and freedom requires us to respect claims about culture and identity and where and how it requires us to challenge such claims. the central theme is that a commitment to liberal democratic principles is often compatible with and may even require public recognition and support of different cultures and identities. At the same time, the openness to difference that I advocate does not require us to accept every claim put forward in the name of culture and identity. in this broad outline, the view I am advancing is a familiar one today, though still strongly contested. What matters, of course, is the way that view is advanced.

The book has three distinctive features: first, its approach, because of the emphasis I place on the importance of context; secondly, the range of phenomena it considers, because of my concern for cultural differences between political communities as well as cultural differences within them; thirdly, its underlying conception of justice which draws upon two different views of fairness, one requiring that the state be as neutral as possible towards culture and identity and the other that the state be evenhanded. the three features are interrelated, and I will say something briefly about each.

Contextual Political Theory

First, my approach. I have subtitled the book A Contextual Exploration of Justice as Evenhandedness. I use the term 'exploration' as a way of indicating that my goal is not to provide a systematic treatise or a comprehensive account. I intend this book to be a contribution to an ongoing conversation among contemporary political theorists. My aim is not to provide a definitive answer to any of the questions addressed in the conversation but to shift the questions

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