The Rational Loving Citizen: Towards a True Interculturality

  • Aránzazu Novales Alquézar
  • Published 2017


According to Habermas, a requisite for the survival of a multicultural society is that its citizens, including immigrants, share a common political culture, an idea taken from the work of Rawls. Today’s multicultural Europe demands a substantive and inclusive democracy (Michelman). A precondition of differentiated citizenship (Kymlicka) is a shared sense of civic purpose and solidarity. We cannot overlook the practice of civic virtues such as listening, dialogue and cooperation, in order to understand ‘the other’, if we accept the premise that we must respect all people of all races and cultures. Social unity does not only depend on shared values or shared principles of justice, it also depends on a shared identity. Minority rights are fundamental to the future of the global liberal tradition, and this includes the rights of racial minorities. However, liberalism should be complemented with a richer theory of human motivation. The liberal commitment to common citizenship reflects an overly legalistic notion that ignores broader social and cultural aspects. Based on compassionate reasoning, and given the relationship between emotions and the strong sense of identity of individuals and groups, this article argues that an essential condition for the development of a sense of civic virtue, solidarity and progress in recognising the processes of shared identities, is the removal of emotional barriers to the inclusion of ‘the other’. We further suggest that our institutions must foster appropriate emotions in order to achieve a public culture of equality. Following Nussbaum’s cognitive theory of emotion, we need political projects to limit the damaging effects of fear, envy, shame and disgust—the main obstacles to the growth of compassion and the normative potential of love, even in stable democracies. The damage can be seen in the jurisprudence of the ECHR concerning the disgust that is shown towards some racial groups such as Jews and people of African or Asian descent. Civil compassion should be strengthened and the propensity to projective disgust can be minimised through civic and community projects. The incorporation of emotion, however, does not transform morality into pernicious relativism. For example, if we agree that ‘racism is bad’, then we need to act accordingly, not only from a legal standpoint but also from a political and A.N. Alquézar (&) University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain e-mail: © Springer International Publishing AG 2017 M. Elósegui and C. Hermida (eds.), Racial Justice, Policies and Courts’ Legal Reasoning in Europe, Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice 60, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-53580-7_2 15 cultural one, because equality is not just a matter of good laws and policies. At the same time as we protect the rights of minorities in law (hoping this will influence other public emotions towards minorities), we should also consider the shaping of an emotional climate that could support and sustain good laws and institutions. Here we have an instrument that can attack liberal individualism and self-interest: the bonds and mechanisms that keep people together must be stronger than the attraction of egoism and self-interest. Moreover, the dangers that arise from individualistic emotions must be controlled by the rule of law and a vigorous critical culture.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Alquzar2017TheRL, title={The Rational Loving Citizen: Towards a True Interculturality}, author={Ar{\'a}nzazu Novales Alqu{\'e}zar}, year={2017} }