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Ethnicity and Group Rights


Ian Shapiro, Will Kymlicka

Publication Year: 1997

Within Western political philosophy, the rights of groups has often been neglected or addressed in only the narrowest fashion. Focusing solely on whether rights are exercised by individuals or groups misses what lies at the heart of ethnocultural conflict, leaving the crucial question unanswered: can the familiar system of common citizenship rights within liberal democracies sufficiently accommodate the legitimate interests of ethnic citizens.

Specifically, how does membership in an ethnic group differ from other groups, such as professional, lifestyle, or advocacy groups? How important is ethnicity to personal identity and self-respect, and does accommodating these interests require more than standard citizenship rights? Crucially, what forms of ethnocultural accommodations are consistent with democratic equality, individual freedom, and political stability? Invoking numerous cases studies and addressing the issue of ethnicity from a range of perspectives, Ethnicity and Group Rights seeks to answer these questions.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi

The present, thirty-ninth, volume of NOMOS began as papers and commentaries read at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy held in conjunction with the Association of American Law Schools, held in New Orleans, Louisiana in January 1995. The topic chosen by the membership was "Ethnicity and Group Rights," and Will Kyrnlicka put...


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pp. xiii-xiv


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1. Introduction

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pp. 3-21

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, liberalism appeared to many commentators as the only ideology which retained any validity or viability in the modern world. Initially, the collapse of communism seemed to many to signify the "end of history." But liberalism proved incapable of containing or defusing the ethnic conflicts...

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2. Classifying Cultural Rights

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pp. 22-66

A vast array of extant and proposed policies seek to accommodate cultural pluralism; these do not lend themselves to being normatively analyzed as a single group. On the other hand, many of them do rise or fall by similar arguments. This chapter seeks to identify those cultural rights-claims which are morally alike and (as importantly) those which are unlike. It does not argue for...


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3. Cultural Toleration

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pp. 69-104

Toleration an attack upon Christianity! What, then! are we come to this pass, to suppose that nothing can support Christianity but the principles of persecution? Is that, then, the idea of establishment? Is it, then, the idea of Christianity itself, that it ought to have establishments, that it ought to have laws...

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4. Response to Kukathas

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pp. 105-111

There are many different actual and imaginable regimes of toleration. Professor Kukathas invites us to consider the possible virtues of a regime in which there is no "common standpoint of morality" that governs the political decision to extend or deny toleration. There is, then, no individual or institutional agent occupying such...

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5. On Human Diversity and the Limits of Toleration

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pp. 112-153

There are about 8,000 distinct cultural groups inhabiting the more than 180 independent countries that are currently members of the United Nations.1 Most nations are multiethnic and multicultural. For some countries, such as many in the developing world, such diversity is most often the result of political boundaries...

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6. The Idea of Nonliberal Constitutionalism

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pp. 154-184

Constitutionalism is often praised as the antidote to tyranny. Not surprisingly, the momentous political transitions now underway in various parts of the world-most of them exiting tyranny of one sort or another-have sparked a revival of interest in constitutionalism. Especially in the postcommunist region...


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7. Group Rights and Ethnicity

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pp. 187-221

In political philosophy, the topic of group rights raises moral questions of the form: May/should a just society grant legal group right(s) R to group(s) G on moral ground(s) M? I address only one aspect of this complex: Should ethnic groups, as such, be favored in the distribution of legal group rights? My negative...

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8. On Justifying Special Ethnic Group Rights: Comments on Pogge

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pp. 222-231

I fundamentally agree with an approach that advocates evaluating claims of group rights on the basis of neutral criteria that apply across the board and not just to a certain set of groups. Professor Pogge is correct to raise concerns about chauvinistic tendencies among certain groups that claim special entitlements on the basis...


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9. Group Agency and Group Rights

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pp. 235-256

One source of discomfort with group or collective rights is the belief that many groups, and particularly ethnic groups, are deficient as rightholders. (I'll call this the "Deficiency Thesis" and abbreviate it as "DT"). An extreme version of DT concludes that groups are so lacking in the characteristics required of competent...

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10. Common-Law Constructions of Group Autonomy: A Case Study

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pp. 257-289

In 1843, a minority of the Church of Scotland seceded and formed the Free Church of Scotland. So traumatic was this schism, that it is referred to in Presbyterian lore as "The Disruption." The new Church put out a call to its supporters to raise funds to build new churches for congregations and new manses...

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11. A Tale of Two Villages (Or, Legal Realism Comes to Town)

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pp. 290-346

The debate between liberals and communitarians seems to be at an impasse. The communitarian charge that liberalism atomizes community has become a commonplace, so much so that our most prominent defenders of the liberal tradition openly concede that a liberal state will adversely affect the ability of some belief...


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12. Deferring Group Representation

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pp. 349-376

Women's movement activists and feminist scholars in many parts of the world have suggested that legislatures peopled almost entirely by men cannot be said properly to represent women. In response to such claims, some countries, such as Argentina, have enacted legislation requiring that party lists include a certain...

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13. What Is a Balanced Committee? Democratic Theory, Public Law, and the Question of Fair Representation on Quasi-Legislative Bodies

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pp. 377-418

In recent years political scientists, writing about fair representation in the legislative and judicial spheres, have noted democratic theory's failure to deal with the profound representational questions that arise in other kinds of forums and institutions.1 Prominent among such forums and institutions is the quasi-legislative...


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14. Self-Determination: Politics, Philosophy, and Law

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pp. 421-463

It has been said of Mikhail Gorbachev that he had the distinction of having lost three world wars. He lost the Cold War, of course. He also lost World War II, because he lost Eastern Europe. And he managed to lose World War I, because he presided over the end of the Russian Empire. This triple defeat produced great...

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15. Tribes, Regions, and Nationalism in Democratic Malawi

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pp. 464-503

When African political conflicts are reported in the press, the word "tribalism" is usually reported too, lying at the heart of political parties, territorial disputes, and when they have them, national elections. Whether they are defined by language, culture, or physiognomy, tribes seem to be fundamental to Africa's social...

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16. "That Time Was Apartheid, Now It's the New South Africa": Discourses of Race in Ruyterwacht, 1995

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pp. 504-539

South Africa's apartheid system, which structured politics, economics, and society on the basis of race from 1948 to 1994, has made South Africa an important case study for racial discourse. The 1950 Population Registration Act separated South Africans into whites, Asians, coloureds, and blacks, roughly in that...

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17. From Ethnic Exclusion to Ethnic Diversity: The Australian Path to Multiculturalism

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pp. 540-571

Joseph Raz argues that multiculturalist policy is a response of liberalism to the fact of ethnic diversity.1 Yet it is a response which troubles many liberals. This is, in part, because its collectivistic bias can seem at odds with the defense of individual rights, and in part because its sanction of multiple sites of loyalty and identity...

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18. Straight Gay Politics: The Limits of an Ethnic Model of Inclusion

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pp. 572-616

On August 24, 1995, presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole did something rarely seen in American politics. He returned the one thousand dollar check of a political contributor. The financial donation in this case came from the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative political group comprised of lesbians and gay men. Still attempting...


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pp. 617-627

E-ISBN-13: 9780814788851
E-ISBN-10: 0814788858
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814780626
Print-ISBN-10: 0814780628

Page Count: 640
Publication Year: 1997