Multiculturalism and Equal Human Dignity: An Essay on Bhikhu Parekh

Res Publica 17 (2):141-156 (2011)
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Abstract

Bhikhu Parekh is an internationally renowned political theorist. His work on identity and multiculturalism is unquestionably thoughtful and nuanced, benefiting from a tremendous depth of knowledge of particular cases. Despite his work’s many virtues, however, the normative justification for Parekh’s recommendations is at times vague or ambiguous. In this essay, I argue that a close reading of his work, in particular his magnum opus Rethinking Multiculturalism and the selfproclaimed sequel A New Politics of Identity, reveals that his claims frequently rely upon a Kantian account of moral dialogue and indeed moral personhood that he remains unwilling to claim. Recognizing this latent Kantianism is essential to a thorough assessment of Parekh’s work on identity, and his criticisms of other theorists. It is only because of his ambiguity that his multiculturalism is able to avoid the sort of charges that he levels against other responses to diversity, including those of such authors as Rawls, Habermas, Kymlicka, and Raz

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Joshua Preiss
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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