The Ethics of Identity

The Ethics of Identity

5.0 1
by Kwame Anthony Appiah
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691130280

ISBN-13: 9780691130286

Pub. Date: 01/02/2007

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality: in the past couple of decades, a great deal of attention has been paid to such collective identities. They clamor for recognition and respect, sometimes at the expense of other things we value. But to what extent do "identities" constrain our freedom, our ability to make an individual life, and to what

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Overview

Race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, sexuality: in the past couple of decades, a great deal of attention has been paid to such collective identities. They clamor for recognition and respect, sometimes at the expense of other things we value. But to what extent do "identities" constrain our freedom, our ability to make an individual life, and to what extent do they enable our individuality? In this beautifully written work, renowned philosopher and African Studies scholar Kwame Anthony Appiah draws on thinkers through the ages and across the globe to explore such questions.

The Ethics of Identity takes seriously both the claims of individuality--the task of making a life---and the claims of identity, these large and often abstract social categories through which we define ourselves.

What sort of life one should lead is a subject that has preoccupied moral and political thinkers from Aristotle to Mill. Here, Appiah develops an account of ethics, in just this venerable sense--but an account that connects moral obligations with collective allegiances, our individuality with our identities. As he observes, the question who we are has always been linked to the question what we are.

Adopting a broadly interdisciplinary perspective, Appiah takes aim at the clichés and received ideas amid which talk of identity so often founders. Is "culture" a good? For that matter, does the concept of culture really explain anything? Is diversity of value in itself? Are moral obligations the only kind there are? Has the rhetoric of "human rights" been overstretched? In the end, Appiah's arguments make it harder to think of the world as divided between the West and the Rest; between locals and cosmopolitans; between Us and Them. The result is a new vision of liberal humanism--one that can accommodate the vagaries and variety that make us human.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691130286
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/02/2007
Edition description:
New
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
914,083
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents


PREFACE ix

Chapter One: The Ethics of Individuality 1

THE GREAT EXPERIMENT--LIBERTY AND INDIVIDUALITY--PLANS OF LIFE--THE SOUL OF THE SERVITOR--

SOCIAL CHOICES--INVENTION AND AUTHENTICITY--THE SOCIAL SCRIPTORIUM--

ETHICS IN IDENTITY--INDIVIDUALITY AND THE STATE--THE COMMON PURSUIT

Chapter Two: Autonomy and Its Critics 36

WHAT AUTONOMY DEMANDS--AUTONOMY AS INTOLERANCE--AUTONOMY AGONISTES--THE TWO STANDPOINTS--
AGENCY AND THE INTERESTS OF THEORY

Chapter Three: The Demands of Identity 62

LEARNING HOW TO CURSE--THE STRUCTURE OF SOCIAL IDENTITIES--MILLET MULTICULTURALISM--AUTONOMISM, PLURALISM, NEUTRALISM--

A FIRST AMENDMENT EXAMPLE: THE ACCOMMODATIONIST PROGRAM--NEUTRALITY RECONSIDERED--THE LANGUAGE OF RECOGNITION--THE MEDUSA SYNDROME--LIMITS AND PARAMETERS

Chapter Four: The Trouble with Culture 114

MAKING UP THE DIFFERENCE--IS CULTURE A GOOD?--THE PRESERVATIONIST ETHIC--NEGATION AS AFFIRMATION-- THE DIVERSITY PRINCIPLE

Chapter Five: Soul Making 155

SOULS AND THE STATE--THE SELF-MANAGEMENT CARD--RATIONAL WELL-BEING--IRRATIONAL IDENTITIES-- SOUL MAKING AND STEREOTYPES--EDUCATED SOULS--CONFLICTS OVER IDENTITY CLAIMS

Chapter Six: Rooted Cosmopolitanism 213

A WORLDWIDE WEB--RUTHLESS COSMOPOLITANS--ETHICAL PARTIALITY--TWO CONCEPTS OF OBLIGATION--COSMOPOLITAN PATRIOTISM--

CONFRONTATION AND CONVERSATION--RIVALROUS GOODS, RIVALROUS GODS--TRAVELING TALES--GLOBALIZING HUMAN RIGHTS--COSMOPOLITAN CONVERSATION

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 273

NOTES 277

INDEX 341

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