Chapter

Equality, diversity and radical politics

Steven R. Smith

in Equality and diversity

Published by Policy Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9781847426079
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302209 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847426079.003.0001
Equality, diversity and radical politics

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This book centres in two premises; first, that the values worth promoting across communities, including those associated with equality and diversity, are often conflicting and incommensurable; and second, that individuals in these communities are agents who have lives that reflect commitments to many incommensurable ‘valued objects’ between both individuals and group members and across one individual's life. In this chapter, it is argued that this type of value conflict and incommensurability is philosophically defensible and, with some elaboration, helps make the normative claims associated with the political slogan that ‘differences should be celebrated’ reasonable. This slogan is a political gambit to protect what might be termed the ‘identity interests’ of the marginalised and disadvantaged, but this chapter argues that it is one that can be understood philosophically as it reflects the incommensurability of promoting the values of both equality and diversity. Following this understanding, the chapter defends other normative claims that through various social and political policies and practices, people should be encouraged and engage in reciprocal and mutually beneficial relations with equal others, while recognising that people also lead incommensurably different lives. In this chapter, the wider philosophical and political backgrounds to the equality and diversity debate are outlined. Discussions in this chapter include: the parameters of equality and diversity; radical politics and universalism versus particularism; resolving the conflict between the values of equality and diversity; and value incommensurability and celebrating difference.

Keywords: values; equality; diversity; value conflict; incommensurability; identity interests; mutually beneficial relations; equality and diversity; universalism; particularism

Chapter.  14544 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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