Relational Plurality as a Corrective to Liberal Atomistic Pluralism

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This essay argues for a concept of political identity that is fundamentally relational in nature contra more liberal accounts of identity that are atomistic. I consider John Rawls’ account of political identity in his Political Liberalism and provide a response stemming from Hannah Arendt’s account of political identity grounded in the existential condition of politics: human plurality. Using her concept of human plurality, I argue that political identity ought to be conceived as relationally individuated as opposed to atomistically so, meaning that our identities only emerge in and through appearing before other political actors and not prior to it. The larger upshot is that conceiving of political identity as relational provides a more fruitful concept of the citizen and might allow progress to be made regarding some of the more entrenched political problems in American political culture, especially polarization and partisanship.
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Archival date: 2020-11-09
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