Respecting Each Others’ Differences
Calls for respect or recognition of difference have primarily been directed at the state. Yet despite some accommodation of such requests, many western states have responded by instead encouraging respect of difference amongst their citizenry. This paper will explore the nature of these potential duties of respect of difference amongst citizens. After outlining the basic reasons that are given for respecting difference, it will argue that whilst these may provide sufficient reason for the state to respect difference, none are particularly relevant reasons for citizens to respect each others’ differences. The paper then looks at the simpler and perhaps more relevant reason amongst citizens; that respecting each others’ differences may be a type of moral duty contained within respect-of-persons, and that respect-of-persons is a relevant duty of citizens. Yet if this is the case, what form could and should such a duty take? This question is explored in relationship to Darwall’s (1977) influential distinction between appraisal-respect and recognition-respect. It is found that despite its apparent appeal, forms of appraisal-respect, which appear popular in policies such as multicultural festivals, have the potential to seriously undermine the more fundamental recognition-respect of both persons and difference. Nevertheless the paper does not then simply accept recognition-respect of difference as a moral duty of citizens. It instead suggests that it appears contradictory to hold that recognition-respect of difference is contained within respect-of-persons, as this approach to difference could actually involve a disrespect-of-persons. The paper concludes by suggesting that whilst respect-of-persons is a fundamental moral duty, any respect of difference that comes out of this duty, seems to be “in spite of”, rather than “because of”, difference. As such it appears that respect of difference amongst citizens is at best a nice disposition, and at worst potentially undermining to both itself and respect-of-persons.