Liberalism and Diversity

Linda Barclay

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780199234769
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:


Liberalism and Diversity

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This article focuses on the force of some criticisms when applied to individuals and groups. It focuses on whether liberalism can address less obvious forms of discrimination and bias that prevent individuals from exercising important choices and participating in society's main institutions. It then considers whether liberalism can similarly answer the accusation that it is intolerant of some groups or associations. It argues that while there is some scope for liberal accommodation in certain contexts, it is not possible for liberalism to meet many of the demands of those groups currently clamouring for special accommodation, because their demands are at odds with basic liberal principles. The final section offers a brief diagnosis of why some liberals nonetheless seem willing to betray liberal principles on their behalf.

Keywords: liberalism; special accommodation; liberal principles; diversity; social institutions; biases

Article.  12448 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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