Overcoming the minority rights paradox : a new approach to intercultural deliberation
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The minority rights paradox is articulated at the level of political theory, is deployed by liberal democratic institutions, and can be observed in the political discourse of mass communications. Minority groups, it is argued, are paradoxically claiming purported rights that are unsupported by the values upon which the claimants base their claim. On the one hand, minority claims are made on the basis of rights secured by a liberal democracy; on the other hand, the claims undermine the legitimacy of liberal reasoning—the same reasoning that legitimizes the rights on which the claims are made. The self-referential implications of this paradox are as follows: Either the minority claim negates its own justification or the underlying justification renders the claim moot. In either case, the charge of paradox effectively puts an end to the conversation by dismissing minority rights claims before they are properly understood. My aim is to first, come to terms with political dialogues in which the charge of paradox occurs and second, to overcome the stultifying effects of the minority rights paradox through a deliberative approach to negotiating the concept and content of minority rights claims. Evaluating the claims of minorities, I will argue, requires a dialogue that can adapt to the participants in the dialogue—an inclusive deliberative process that gives formal, procedural and substantive recognition to the worldviews of minority cultures in political decision-making.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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