Monday, June 13, 2005

Mailbag: Pluralism and Rights

[The following is an email from an Indian reader and Ph.D student in political philosophy. He outlines his thesis, and invites comments.]

dear chappell,
your blog is very well made. if i am not wrong you are doing research in political philosophy. i am doctoral researcher in political philosophy at the dept of humanities and social sciences, indian institute of technology, bombay india. i am working on conflict of liberalism and pluralism with respect to right-claims. i am in the fourth year. my thesis statement is "The major tenet of this thesis is that "pluralism" acts as an ontological base for an appropriate, and reasonable theory of rights." the abstract goes like this:

The thesis substantially argues that any reasonable theory of rights cannot escape conflict with respect to right-claims; individual as well as collective. It pertains to both the domains of basic liberties and substantial freedoms. The issue that matters is how the egalitarian principles and the principles of justice are located, where either individuals or collective can be represented as bearer of rights. The fundamental arguments for rights should ground in principles of plurality, maintaining an objection to universalism as an overriding moral principle. It should follow John Kekes model of universal-plural or primary-secondary dichotomy, which has rather a complementary relationship. The thesis further attempts to prove that pluralism's reconciliation of conflict and difference is not a moral compromise, but rather approves true sense of moral autonomy. Conflict of right-claims remains further unresolved in the attempt to seetle the principles of reasonability and unreasonability with glorification of public political reason. The latter proves to be a limited criterion to establish the constructivist notion of settled norms. The thesis attempts to formulate an appropriate definition of "pluralism" and "reasonabileness" in the light of the above conditions Finally, the thesis provides a hope of conceving a just egalitarian society with five dominant characteristics; the rational and the reasonable, the plural, the democratic, the moral and the egalitarian principles.

A just society should give considerable weightage to the following points:
1. Imposition of anything against one's wish leads to dissatisfaction [Here, not really arguing with reference to paternalism],
2. Based on the primacy of the political, we can say that no society is conceivable without minimum regulative principles.
3. Minimum oppression and minimum suppression is taken as given in any society.
4. Conflict arising from disagreement is inevitable.
5. We have mentioned the significance of justice and equality as crucial to just society. This requires reasonable principles that would explain that a person need to have a balance between maximization of freedoms and trade-offs.
6. Given in any point of time, there will be the dominant group and the dominated group. Power remains the dominant aspect of a political discourse. It is mediated by conflict and domination that determine the public sphere.
7. It is true that the conception of a society should be based on a particular conception of human beings. The conception of a just society explained here conceives human beings to be self-centered beings besides their involvement in the shared meanings of life.
8. A society needs a constitutional state which is reformative in character.

your blog consists of too many interesting arguments. i would respond in a few days. it would be very pleasing if you can send your comments on the above, so that further discussions can follow.

thanking you
upendra

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