Liberalism, Equality, and Cultural Oppression

Overview

Liberal political philosophy emphasizes the benefits of membership in a cultural group and, in the opinion of this challenging new book, neglects its harmful, oppressive aspects. Andrew Kernohan argues that an oppressive culture perpetuates inegalitarian social meanings and false assumptions about who is entitled to what. Cultural pollution causes harm to fundamental interests in self-respect and knowledge of the good, harm that is diffuse, insidious, and unnoticed. This harm is analogous to environmental ...
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Overview

Liberal political philosophy emphasizes the benefits of membership in a cultural group and, in the opinion of this challenging new book, neglects its harmful, oppressive aspects. Andrew Kernohan argues that an oppressive culture perpetuates inegalitarian social meanings and false assumptions about who is entitled to what. Cultural pollution causes harm to fundamental interests in self-respect and knowledge of the good, harm that is diffuse, insidious, and unnoticed. This harm is analogous to environmental pollution, and though difficult to detect, it is nonetheless just as real. The book's conclusion is that a liberal state committed to the moral equality of persons must accept a strong role in reforming our cultural environment.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kernohan makes out a strong and daring case that the liberal state should not be neutral regarding people's conceptions of the good but should favor an egalitarian ethic and actively promote it within popular political culture. Socialists with this view of the role of the state have usually also been critics of liberalism per se. In this respect they have been like conservative counterparts who agree that the state should avoid value neutrality, but differ about what values it should favor. By contrast, Kernohan's challenge is internal to liberalism. It thus cannot be dismissed by liberal theorists. The book will surely spark a lively and important debate." Frank Cunningham, University of Toronto

"...Kernohan's book is a significant contribution to current debates about liberalism that should force egalitarian liberals to clarify their position on the issue of neutrality in two ways...his discussion of the incohernece of the egalitarian liberal understanding of neutrality should force liberals to further clarify what they wish to retain from the basic intuition behind the principle." Canadian Journal of Philosophy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521621649
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Pages: 146
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgements
1 Equality, Tolerance, and Cultural Oppression 1
Liberalism, Equality, and Tolerance 1
Cultural Oppression 11
The Liberal Theory of Cultural Membership 19
2 Liberalism and the Epistemology of Value 26
Cultural Oppression and Self-respect 26
Coercion, Endorsement, and Knowledge 29
The Metaethics of Egalitarian Liberalism 37
3 The Moral Equality of Persons 48
Extending Rawls's Theory of Moral Equality 49
Equality, Social Meanings, and Deliberation 60
4 Neutrality and the Harm Principle 71
Accumulative Harms and the Harm Principle 71
Nozick's Objection 79
Other Worries 82
5 Liberalism and the Reform of Culture 88
Culture and Expression 89
Strategies of Reform 91
State Neutrality and the Advocacy Strategy 96
Freedom of Expression 103
Conclusion 110
Notes 118
Index 129
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