2nd Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Lawlor/Rachel

Rachel Lawlor

Cultural Diversity and the Politics of Recognition

A number of political theorists have found the idiom of recognition useful for describing and evaluating the rather disparate claims of an array of groups whose self-definitions may be couched in terms of nationality, language, culture, ethnicity or gender, sexuality and physical capacity. However there is less consensus about what providing due recognition entails. My paper is divided into three sections. The first discusses Charles Taylor’s early influential essay on Multiculturalism and the Politics of Recognition. The second section considers an alternative account of recognition as ‘equality of status’ developed in Nancy Fraser’s recent work. Fraser finds Taylor’s attempt to link recognition to the ideal of cultural authenticity problematic, suggesting that it privileges group specificity over equal status as the central ideal of citizenship. However, Fraser’s own strategy to ‘break with the standard identity model of recognition’ is unsustainable since issues of identity and the good, cannot readily be extricated from conceptions of justice and models of citizenship. Finally, I consider the ‘agonistic model’ developed by James Tully which links recognition with the practices of civic freedom, suggesting that this model resolves some of the central tensions between Taylor’s ‘ethical’ and Fraser’s ‘deontological’ approaches.