Do people have cultural rights?

Culture talk is not so very far from the race talk that it would supplant in liberal discourse…

No, that is not Larry Summers.  Kwame Anthony Appiah, a Princeton professor, argues that culture is too often used as a not totally legitimate means of separating in-groups from out-groups.  In his view we should sooner reform cultural identities — encourage more tolerance and polyglot interests — than respect current cultures and cultural views as a matter of legal or moral right.

That is from his new The Ethics of Identity, highly recommended.

Here is an interview with Appiah.  This is one good bit:

Look, farming as a way of life is dying in the United States, but it’s not dying because people are shooting the children of farmers, or abusing them, or denying them food or loans or anything–in fact, we massively subsidize them. It’s just that people don’t want to be farmers. Do I think that it would be a great tragedy if the form of life of a Midwestern farmer disappeared? Well, I don’t want to sound un-American, but no, I don’t.

And the guy isn’t even an economist.


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