How Wide the We? A Study of Canadian Multiculturalism and American Cosmopolitanism
Caver, Christopher Martin
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This paper looks at liberal multiculturalism through the lens of its cosmopolitan critics. In particular I examine the arguments of four theorists who issue a variety challenges to the concept of state-sanctioned minority rights. The first two of these theorists, K. Anthony Appiah and David Hollinger, offer cosmopolitan challenges to multiculturalist views on identity (Appiah) and historical critiques of the effects of racial and ethnic political claims-making (Hollinger). My analysis attempts to show how these views are indicative of distinctly a American emphasis on race and immigration which inhibits them from a better appreciation of the Canadian experience with national minorities, one of liberal multiculturalism's main concerns. The third theorist, Patchen Markell, presents a theory of incomplete individual agency the acknowledgment of which he argues is necessary for an adequate political theory yet remains unappreciated by proponents of recognition. I attempt to show that while his concept is useful, it is simply misplaced to the arguments he wishes to criticize. The fourth theorist whose work I examine is Seyla Benhabib. She presents a more substantial account of what cosmopolitan minority claims might look like, relying on a postnational view of world affairs which eschews the state-centric approach of liberal multiculturalism. I largely reject her criticisms, but I argue that this postnational vision is one that could have implications for liberal multiculturalism. I finally offer a modest account of what these implications might be and where the terrain of this multiculturalist-cosmopolitan debate may be headed.