Saturday, May 30, 2009

Odd search that brought someone here

similarities and differences in liberal thought by bill, rawls and barry

Who, I wonder, is "bill"?

Thursday, May 28, 2009


L'affaire Sotomayor has clearly given me fodder for the next round of revisions on Multicultural Manners. It's just the right kind of case; there's lots of local variation in what's reasonable (anglophones in China and Chinese in English-speaking countries-- maybe it's true of westerners/ Europeans in general, I just don't know-- routinely adopt new locally-appropriate names rather than either put up with hearing their name mangled all the time or trying to force locals to wrap their mouths around unfamiliar sounds, but I don't think this is widespread in other cases); neither an ironclad rule of "always pronounce the name the way it was pronounced in its original language" or "always localize pronunciation" seems even plausible, much less reasonable; there will be questions of local respect in deciding which languages are so homegrown that keeping the original pronunciation is tied up with questions of political equality (Puerto Rico is part of the United States, and it's more problematic to exotify Spanish in that "we can't be expected to talk furriner talk!" way than it would be with, say, Russian); and the question exists in that same interpersonal space between rights-bearers, especially acute in crowded multiethnic cities, that is the focus of the paper. Isolated Amish folks don't often run into the problem of how outsiders pronounce their names, and probably don't care much.

Language cases get short shrift in the paper as it is, even though I knew they were relevant, as I got interested in the idea that seeing-and-being-seen united a whole bunch of cases of interest. But hearing-and-being-heard is structurally similar.

Also related: the inconsistent mess of customs about how to pronounce place-names (cf the by-now-famous Obama shift from an Anglicized "Afghanistan" to a less-Anglicized "Pakistan" within the same set of remarks), and whether to translate words within place names. There's no possibility of consistency here; only a pretentious nitwit walks around saying "Paree" in English for "Paris," but only a clod would say "San Joo-an" or "Saint John" for "San Juan." So we're inevitably in the muddled middle. Someone who says "Me-hico" in English sounds ridiculous to me. But I understand that there's a generation of English speakers to whom my "Bay-jing" instead of Peking sounds just as absurd. And I say Bay-jing with very English sounds; it's no close approximation of how the word sounds in Mandarin.

But being stuck in the muddled middle is not the same as denying that their are locally-right and locally-wrong answers, things that are polite and things that are otherwise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


"Sotomayor’s Rulings Are Exhaustive but Often Narrow ">, NYT, Adam Liptak:
Judge Sotomayor’s six years on the trial court and more than a decade on the Second Circuit probably confirmed those intuitions, in part because of the idiosyncratic dockets of the federal courts in New York. They hear many important cases involving business, securities, employment, white-collar crime and immigration. But they do not regularly confront the great issues of the day.

Because everyone knows that securities law is boring local concern of Manhattanites and, on a national level, pretty trivial; that's been one of the great lessons of the last year, right? And the prosecution of (real or alleged) white-collar crime on Wall Street has sure never been newsworthy. And there's nothing morally weighty in immigration law, or anything. Not like the exciting Supreme Court where one gets to decide whether a requirement that strippers wear pasties infringes on the right of free speech.

What on earth can this mean-- that only constitutional law offers Great Issues? That only abortion and gay marriage count? Note: speculation on my part; he doesn't name those issues. I just don't know how one can write that list of things the Second Circuit's docket centers on and then dismiss it in the next sentence.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Now available: Toward a Humanist Justice

Toward a Humanist Justice: The Political Philosophy of Susan Moller Okin, edited by Debra Satz and Rob Reich.

The late Susan Moller Okin was a leading political theorist whose scholarship integrated political philosophy and issues of gender, the family, and culture. Okin argued that liberalism, properly understood as a theory opposed to social hierarchies and supportive of individual freedom and equality, provided the tools for criticizing the substantial and systematic inequalities between men and women. Her thought was deeply informed by a feminist view that theories of justice must apply equally to women as men, and she was deeply engaged in showing how many past and present political theories failed to do this. She sought to rehabilitate political theories--particularly that of liberal egalitarianism, in such a way as to accommodate the equality of the sexes, and with an eye toward improving the condition of women and families in a world of massive gender inequalities. In her lifetime Okin was widely respected as a scholar whose engagement went well beyond the world of theory, and her premature death in 2004 was considered by many a major blow to progressive political thought and women's interests around the world.

This volume stems from a conference on Okin, and contains articles by some of the top feminist and political philosophers working today. They are organized around a set of themes central to Okin's work, namely liberal theory, gender and the family, feminist and cultural differences, and global justice. Included are major figures such as Joshua Cohen, David Miller, Cass Sunstein, Alison Jaggar, and Iris Marion Young, among others. Their aim is not to celebrate Okin's work, but to constructively engage with it and further its goals.

Table of Contents
Introduction: Toward a Humanist Justice , Debra Satz, (Stanford University) and Rob Reich, (Stanford University)

PART 1: Rethinking Political Theory

1. Okin's Liberal Feminism as a Radical Political Theory , Nancy Rosenblum, (Harvard University)
2. Justice and Gender: Reflections on Susan Moller Okin , Joshua Cohen, (Stanford University)
3. Okin's Contributions to the Study Of Gender in Political Theory , Elizabeth Wingrove, (University of Michigan)
4. Can Feminism be Liberated from Governmentalism? , John Tomasi, (Brown University)

PART II: Gender and the Family

5. Equality of Opportunity and the Family , David Miller, (Oxford University)
6. "No More Relevance than One's Eye Color": Justice and Okin's Genderless Society , Molly Lynn Shanley, (Vassar College)
7. On the Tension Between Sex Equality and Religious Freedom , Cass Sunstein, (University of Chicago)

PART III: Feminism and Cultural Diversity

8. From Liberal to Post-Colonial to Multicultural Feminism: Competing Approaches to the study of Gender, Citizenship and Fate of Religious Arbitration , Ayelet Shachar, (University of Toronto)
9. Okin and the Challenge of Essentialism , Alison Jaggar, (University of Colorado at Boulder)
10. The Dilemma of a Dutiful Daughter: Love and Freedom in the Thought of Kartini , Chandran Kukathas, (London School of Economics)

PART IV: Development and Gender

11. Reinventing Globalization to Reduce Gender Inequality , Robert Keohane, (Princeton University)
12. The Gendered Cycle of Vulnerability in the Less Developed World , Iris Marion Young, (University of Chicago)

That last chapter will be one of the final pieces by Iris Young to see print.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Kymlicka interviewed about Canadian multiculturalism...

in the Globe and Mail. Includes some discussion of the Tamil community's distinctive political profile, as well as discussions about the Canadian high-skill immigration model.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I Can't Quite Believe My Eyes

From the AP and currently appearing on the NYT front page: Church of Scotland Votes to Appoint Gay Minister

The Church of Scotland has voted in favor of appointing an openly gay minister -- the latest case involving sexuality to create a division in the Anglican Communion.


The case has divided Scottish religious leaders and follows tensions within the worldwide 77 million-member Anglican Communion. About 900 elders and ministers took part in a debate on Rennie's case, but many chose to abstain from casting a vote.

Anglicans have conducted lengthy debate over sexuality issues since the Episcopal Church -- the Anglican body in the U.S. -- consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.

Emphasis added.

It is a matter of some considerable historical importance that the Church of Scotland is not an Anglican church or part of the Anglican Communion. There is a church in Scotland that is part of the Communion, the Scottish Episcopal Church, but this is not that; this is the much larger, and official, Church of Scotland. A reporter who lacked any knowledge of the history, or of Scotland, but who knew a little bit about religion, might have noticed that the decisionmaking structure involving "about 900 elders and ministers" judging a minister didn't seem very much like that involved in confirming Robinson's appointment as bishop, insofar as it lacked a House of Bishops. Decisionmaking by "ministers and elders" is an institutional form distinctively associated with Presbyterianism ("presbyter" = "elder"). Episcopal churches have bishops ("episcopos" = "bishop.") The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian. Anglican Churches are Episcopal.