Chapter 7: What Does Cultural Difference Require of Human Rights?
University of Oslo - Faculty of Law - Department of Public and International Law/Pluricourts Center of Excellence
March 15, 2013
Human Rights. The Hard Questions, C.Holder and D.Reidy, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2013
With this essay I analyse the notion of cultural difference with a reference to moral and epistemic relativism. I then explain how the contradictory nature of relativism leads to the notion of cultural difference and then to the idea of cultural pluralism. Cultural pluralism does not only acquire significance in view of moral arguments but is the result of the fulfillment of socio-political standards for mutual cooperation. The latter can be achieved only if the potential conflict among different comprehensive views is defused. According to my views, in order to overcome the potential conflict among comprehensive views of the good, one has to recognize the normative force of one fundamental principle of human rights - the principle of equal liberty of communication. The formulation of such a principle is sensitive to the critical-genealogical reconstruction of the primary meaning of human rights as a concept originating from the end of the Wars of Religion (1598). What I will claim is that the principle of equal liberty of communication is required by the same “fact of pluralism” (Rawls 1993). Contrary to its original meaning as equality of conscience, the principle of equal liberty of communication is to be interpreted today in accordance to its most extensive public participatory form, that is, as equality of participation. One crucial aspect of the proposed argument is showing how there is a strict interconnection between the principle of equal liberty of communication and the role of reflective judgment in constructing pluralism along exemplar lines. It is believed that the model of public reason suggested here will prove to be both more inclusive and stable than those grounded on forms of presumed neutrality.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 15
Keywords: human rights, pluralism, wars of religion, relativism, universalism
Date posted: March 16, 2013 ; Last revised: September 26, 2013