The Misrecognised as the Least the Advantaged Citizens in Plural Democracies

Mark Blythe


John Rawls’s “Justice as Fairness” is the most systematic attempt in recent decades to provide a liberal grounding for justice in plural democratic societies. Rawls argued that social and economic inequalities are justifiable only if they are to the advantage of society’s least-advantaged members. Rawls argued that the least-advantaged position in society was occupied by the citizen with the lowest expectation for primary social goods (all-purpose means like income and opportunity). This paper argues that the least-advantaged citizens, in part, are those whose identities are misrecognised. Misrecognition of identity can cause harm; it can restrict the agency and opportunity of the misrecognised. Minority identity groups (whose identities are often misrecognised) do not do as well as others citizens in social, economic and political terms. This paper argues that the misrecognition of identity constitutes unreasonable democratic practice because it can harm members of minority identity groups.


liberalism, multiculturalism

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@Canadian Political Science Review (CPSR). ISSN 1911-4125