Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Snow, Nancy E.

Second Advisor

Hinze, Christine F.

Third Advisor

Krettek, G. Thomas


I was introduced to the works of Iris Marion Young by Dr. Eddy Suffrant in his graduate course in political philosophy. Later, I did an independent study of Young's Justice and the Politics of Difference and Inclusion and Democracy under the direction of Dr. Nancy E. Snow. In both books Young makes good arguments about protecting the culturally and economically marginalized, an ensuring that they participate fully in the political process of their communities. I agree with most of what Young says in her writings. However, I disagree with how she reaches some of her conclusions. I think there are gaps in her reasoning. In this dissertation I try to show where the gaps occur and how to seal them. The politics of difference is a political theory that seeks to respond to various forms of group-based oppression. It is a quest for socio-political justice that builds on group difference, positive identities and self-affirming attitudes, in order to challenge demeaning stereotyping and group-structured inequalities. It aims at revealing and correcting underlying assumptions that make mainstream cultural attitudes of socially privileged groups undervalue minority non-conforming cultures. The basis for such an approach is recognition of the equal moral worth of all persons. Consequently, the promotion of justice calls for a twofold approach: (1) It requires us to recognize, on the one hand, that other persons are morally similar to us and therefore deserve equal treatment; and on the other hand (2) it requires us to reverse existing inequalities in a manner that does not undermine the differences that make up who people are. Thus, we should treat all people equitably. Such an approach takes care of the profound equality of human beings by definition, without neglecting the visible and legitimate social differences among them. It is a delicate balance between equality and equitability for the sake of justice. This is what Young calls the politics of difference: the organization of society based on equality and difference...



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