Neutrality Remains the Solution

Stream: Panel 31 - Political Theory: Temporary Migration 
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


New migratory challenges, including temporary migration, appear to be increasing the diversity of our societies. This appears to pose a challenge for normative theories of multiculturalism, particularly those based on citizenship. In this paper, I defend a principle of neutrality in dealing with these potential new migratory challenges. Neutrality is both an ideal and a range concept, and thus, I argue, it can be both active and difference-sensitive. Compared to the dominant theories of multiculturalism (involving group-differentiated rights, exemptions, support etc), neutrality, rather than being the problem, is better able to deal with complex issues. Rather than singularly respond to claims, this active form of neutrality simply expands the space for diversity without needing to recognise any particular form, and so avoids many of the political problems of recognition. If societies are becoming more diverse, then there is even greater reason to aspire to neutral institutions, and ones which do not necessarily require citizenship. A form of active neutrality will enable the complexity of diversity to be unhindered; for individuals to easily move between the various facets of their identity; and do so without further entrenching the problems of recognition.


Peter Balint (Presenter), UNSW Canberra
Dr Peter Balint is Head of Discipline and a Senior Lecturer in International & Political Studies at UNSW Canberra. His research is primarily focussed on the principles for diversity, including respect, toleration, neutrality, and social cohesion. His forthcoming book, Respecting Toleration: Traditional Liberalism and Contemporary Diversity, with be published by Oxford University Press in January 2017. He has a PhD in Politics & International Relations (2009) and a B.A.(Hons) in History & Philosophy of Science from UNSW. In 2014 he was awarded a Freilich Foundation Early Career Research Grant and made an Honorary Visiting Fellow at The University of Manchester (MANCEPT). He has previously held Visiting Fellowships at The Morell Centre for Toleration (University of York) and CAPPE (Australian National University). In 2010-11 he was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship at The Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main on the project 'Justitia Amplificata. Rethinking Justice − Applied and Global'. He is a founding member of the Global Justice Network, and a regular editor of their journal, Global Justice: Theory Practice Rhetoric.