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Diversity and Equity: Theoretical Perspectives

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  1. Diversity and Equity: Theoretical Perspectives Theory_Diversity&Equity

  2. The Identity Argument • The basic claim of the identity argument is that race, ethnicity, and culture are central to decision making (moral, political, social) • Premise 1: One’s ability to act freely (=make free and independent decisions) depends (at least in part) on one’s identity; • Classical liberals (followers of classical liberalism) disagree with premise 1. They would argue that one’s ability to act as a free agent is purely a matter of the person’s ability to act rationally (not influenced by emotions or/and subjective desires). • Supporters of premise 1 of the Identity Argument point to special obligations characteristic of particular cultures and ethnicities, e.g., placing a high value on family commitments. • Premise 2: One’s race (or ethnicity, or culture) is central to one’s identity as an acting agent (=member of a group); • In order to evaluate this premise, we first must ask: What exactly do we mean by race, ethnicity, and culture? • Conclusion: From premises 1&2, it follows that what is right (based on political, moral, social values) depends (at least in part) on the person’s race, ethnicity, or culture. Theory_Diversity&Equity

  3. Race, Ethnicity, and Culture • Race: Racial categories appear biological, but their significance is social. • This term has dubious descriptive value. Whereas it was for some time common to divide humanity into four main races (Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid and sometimes Australoid), modern genetics tends not to speak of races. • Racism builds on the assumption that personality is somehow linked with hereditary characteristics that differ systematically between “races,” and in this way race may assume sociological importance even if it has no “objective” existence. • Ethnicity is an aspect of social relationship between agents who consider themselves as being culturally distinctive from members of other groups with whom they interact. Ethnicity is generally more concerned with the identification of “us,” while racism is more oriented to the categorisation of “them.” • Ethnic identity can be formed by certain external events (e.g., slavery, persecution, discrimination) or by certain shared experiences (i.e., race, culture, and community membership). • Culture: Set of beliefs, values and practices that define a group’s identity • To identity characteristics (=race, ethnicity, and culture) we may add gender, social class, economic ability, etc. Theory_Diversity&Equity

  4. Responses to the Identity Argument • Separatism - seeks to preserve identity by maintaining a separate existence. • May be partial or Complete • Examples: Amish and Mennonites, Orthodox Jews, Acoma Pueblo • Supremacist - seeks power and superiority over all other groups (see Jim Crow laws in the United States, which tried to retain white supremacy). • Assimilationist and Integrationist - seeks a common identity, the “melting pot.” • Pluralist - preserves particularity in a shared framework, the “crazy quilt.” • Rejects ideals of impartiality (e.g., meritocracy, etc.) • Seeks to preserve and strengthen group identity Theory_Diversity&Equity

  5. Pluralism and Multiculturalism • Principle of Understanding • We seek to understand other cultures before we pass judgment on them. • Principle of Tolerance • We recognize that there are important areas in which intelligent people of good character will in fact differ. • Principle of Standing Up for Justice • We recognize that at some points we must stand up against evil, even when it is outside of our own borders. • Principle of Fallibility • We recognize that, even with the best of intentions, our judgments may be flawed and mistaken. Theory_Diversity&Equity


  6. Kymlicka’s Argument for Minority Rights • “Liberalism, Community, and Culture” (1989) and “Multicultural Citizenship” (1995) • Thesis: liberalism entails minority rights • Following Rawls, Kymlicka argues that the ability to develop and pursue a life plan is a very important good • One’s own culture is necessary for achieving that good • Many minority cultures need special protection if they are to continue to exist • Thus minority cultures must be given special protection so that all members of society have an equal opportunity to pursue a life plan. Theory_Diversity&Equity

  7. The Rights of Indigenous Peoples • Compensatory Justice • Backward-looking • Redress past harms • Rights of Indigenous Peoples • Language • Religion • Land • Self-determination Theory_Diversity&Equity

  8. Rights of Formerly Enslaved Peoples • Do we owe a special debt to those who have been forcibly brought to our shores and enslaved? • To their descendants? • How is such a debt measured? Repaid? • One way of providing special protection to groups that have been the object of persecution is to provide special legal sanctions against persecutory acts--in other words, against hate crimes. Theory_Diversity&Equity

  9. The Rights of Immigrant Minorities • What special rights, if any, do immigrant minorities have if they have freely come to the United States in search of a better life? • Language • Support Theory_Diversity&Equity

  10. Virtues of the Diverse Society • Lawrence Blum indicates there are three virtues necessary for living well in a diverse society • Opposition to racism • Multiculturalism • Sense of community, connection, or common humanity Theory_Diversity&Equity