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Is There a Canadian Philosophy?

Reflections on the Canadian Identity

G.B. Madison, Paul Fairfield and Ingrid Harris

Publication Year: 2000

Is There a Canadian Philosophy? addresses the themes of community, culture, national identity, and universal human rights, taking the Canadian example as its focus. The authors argue that nations compelled to cope with increasing demands for group recognition may do so in a broadly liberal spirit and without succumbing to the dangers associated with an illiberal, adversarial multiculturalism. They identify and describe a Canadian civic philosophy and attempt to show how this modus operandi of Canadian public life is capable of reconciling questions of collective identity and recognition with a commitment to individual rights and related principles of liberal democracy. They further argue that this philosophy can serve as a model for nations around the world faced with internal complexities and growing demands for recognition from populations more diverse than at any previous time in their histories.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Series: Philosophica


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pp. v-vi

About the Authors

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pp. vii

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pp. 1-8

If there is one thing urgently required in nations around the world confronted with growing demands for recognition of various forms of particularity—ethnic, cultural, linguistic, gender, and so on—it is a conception of civil association that reconciles recognition of difference with respect for the rights of individuals. Many older liberal democracies are rapidly ...

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Chapter 1. Nationality and Universality

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pp. 9-70

On the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 1995, UNESCO published a volume entitled Philosophie et democratic dans le monde. This was part of a larger project intended to take stock of the current place of philosophy in education and culture, with the aim of promoting the teaching of philosophy throughout the world. The basic theme of the book was that, as its title suggests, the fate of democracy is intimately linked to that of philosophy: l'enseignement philosophique ... a partie ...


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pp. 71-79


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pp. 80-88

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Chapter 2. Nationalism and the Politics of Identity

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pp. 89-110

While not an altogether new phenomenon, political argumentation in recent times has increasingly opted for a discourse of collective identity over traditional liberal discourses of utility, the common good, and individual rights. Considerations of collective identity—whether articulated along national, ethnic, linguistic, gender, or other lines—and demands for recognition are increasingly displacing vocabularies of universality, neutrality, and, perhaps most of all, ...


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pp. 111


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pp. 112-116

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Chapter 3. The Bearers of Rights: Individuals or Collectives?

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pp. 117-131

It is an old Canadian political impulse to seek reconciliation between apparent opposites both at the levels of political philosophy and practice. Perhaps a legacy of the historic agreement that brought together in a single nation cultures as diverse as the English, the French, and an assortment of aboriginal peoples, the practice of seeking political consensus ...


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pp. 132


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pp. 133-138

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Chapter 4. Democracy in Canada: "Canada" as a Spontaneous Order

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pp. 139-164

Canadian political thinkers are currently grappling with many difficult questions in the face of the need for critical existential decisions: 1) Can the Canadian federal system survive the sovereignty of Quebec and aboriginal groups? 2) Are the special rights that accompany group sovereignty necessarily ...


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pp. 165-167


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pp. 168-170

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Chapter 5. Rights, Sovereignty, and the Nation-State

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pp. 171-204

The sign at the side of the road reads, "Attention: You are now leaving Ontario. From here on you will be subject to the laws of the Nisga'a (or Mohawk, Cree, Inuit, etc.) nation." The prospect of encountering such a sign frightens the daylights out of some people. After all, ethnocultural conflicts have been ...


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pp. 205-208


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pp. 209-212


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pp. 213-218

E-ISBN-13: 9780776616155
E-ISBN-10: 0776616153
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776605142
Print-ISBN-10: 0776605143

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2000

Volume Title: 52
Series Title: Philosophica

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Civil rights -- Canada.
  • Nationalism -- Canada.
  • Democracy -- Canada.
  • Philosophy, Canadian.
  • Multiculturalism -- Canada.
  • Canada -- Civilization -- 1945-.
  • National characteristics, Canadian.
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