Ethic Identity: Social Justice Affirmation Difference Social Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Ethic Identity: Social Justice Affirmation Difference Social Transformation Critical Review Essay approximately

Follow the Leader: Liberalism and Individuality

One of the central tenets to be found in Kwame Anthony Appiah's non-fictional manuscript entitled The Ethics Of Identity is a preoccupation with individuality, as it relates to the forming of one's identity. This concern for individualism is one of the primary themes of liberalism, which was initially championed by John Stuart Mill and may be evidenced by the author's work entitled On Liberty. Subsequently, Appiah's aforementioned book deals with several questions regarding individuality -- such as how this concept fits into the overall scheme of multiculturalism, as well as how it relates to the idea of being inherently Western. However, it would greatly appear that these questions regarding the importance of individualism are relatively small in comparison to the larger issue at hand which liberalism deals with -- which is an equality of rights for all and which is something that, although it has been acknowledged for several centuries (if not millennia), has never quite fully been implemented on a wide scale structure. This paper will attempt to indicate to the reader that Appiah's championing of liberalism is somewhat misplaced, and would be better suited supporting the widespread dissemination of equal rights.

In order to most effectively prove this point, it becomes necessary to view the relationship which Appiah views as existent between liberalism, individuality, and equal rights. In many ways, the author uses the term liberty to freely imply an equality of rights among citizens. This proclivity is true in the following quotation from The Ethics Of Identity in which the author expounds on the relationship between individuality and liberty (the latter term which is fairly synonymous for equal rights). "…individuality could be taken as a prior even to the book's titular subject, liberty itself. Our capacity to use all our faculties in our individual ways was, at least in part, was what made liberty valuable to us." This quotation denotes the close correlation between liberty and individuality, and expresses the idea that one of the defining features of individuality is to be able to use one's liberty however one pleases. There is almost a tautological relationship expressed between these two similar concepts, as it may very well be argued that one of the defining features of liberty is to be able to express one's individuality. But in regarding these terms from this viewpoint, one misses the greater importance of the conception of liberty or of equal rights, which is little addressed in The Ethics of Identity. Without liberty oppression reigns; there are countless historical examples of horror that attest to this fact. The pursuit of equality is considerably more important than that of individuality, then. It is a capacity to live life to the fullest, unrestrained, regardless if one is a carbon copy of another, and the pursuit of such equal rights should always supersede that of individuality -- which may very well just be a matter of personal taste or style. Equal rights and liberty, in comparison, has frequently…

Sources Used in Document:


Appiah, K.A. (2005). The Ethics of Identity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Benhabib, S. (2002). The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global

Era. Princeton: PrincetonUniversity Press.

Michaels, W.B. (2006). The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality. New York: Metropolitan Books.

Cite This Essay:

"Ethic Identity Social Justice Affirmation Difference Social" (2011, October 19) Retrieved June 5, 2020, from

"Ethic Identity Social Justice Affirmation Difference Social" 19 October 2011. Web.5 June. 2020. <>

"Ethic Identity Social Justice Affirmation Difference Social", 19 October 2011, Accessed.5 June. 2020,