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Multiculturalism and the Problem of Particularism

Joshua Parens
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 88, No. 1 (Mar., 1994), pp. 169-181
DOI: 10.2307/2944889
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2944889
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Multiculturalism and the Problem of Particularism
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Abstract

When Kant first used the term "culture," he referred to the human capacity to will universal moral laws. Multiculturalists object to the denial of "difference" implicit in Kantian as well as all other Enlightenment forms of universalism. Their objection stems from their more particularistic understanding of culture, which for the most part everyone shares today. Plato is frequently said to be the fount of (universal) natural law theory; yet a medieval Muslim philosopher, Alfarabi, presents a Plato who denies moral universalism but acknowledges the possibility of some form of universalism, at least in the realm of knowledge. Alfarabi's Plato thereby provides a corrective for both extreme contemporary particularism and extreme Kantian universalism.

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