By B A Marshall
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If so, can group interests ever take priority over individual ones? What kind of harm counts? Is pornography a kind of harm? Or hate speech? Or the violation of a group's 'sacred site'? It does not follow that relativism is a consequence of reasonable disagreement, but it does mean the project of justifying the exercise of political power is considerably complicated by such diversity. Thomas Nagel has referred to this evaluative pluralism as involving the 'fragmentation of value'; diverse sources of moral value incapable of being arranged into a final comprehensive ranking or order.
Second, culture is Janus-faced. This is a crucial point. Various cultural practices can be open-textured, dynamic and freedom-enhancing. " In liberal political thought, as we shall sec, the most interesting work on cultural rights rejects the bounded and static view of culture and accepts the more open-ended and dynamic notion familiar to the student of the best recent work in anthropology and cultural studies. But to think that a genuinely intercultural liberalism is possible requires addressing a number of recent powerful criticisms of liberalism.
Clifford Gecrtz's influential argument still resonates, I think, when he talks about culture as providing a 'set of control mechanisms - plans, recipes, rules, instruc26 27 28 29 50 The postcolonial challenge 37 tions (what computer engineers call "programs") - for the governing of behaviour ... " These mechanisms - or software, keeping with Geertz's prescient metaphor (the article was published in 1973) - are 'already current in the community where he is born, and they remain, with some additions, subtractions, and partial alterations he may or may not have had a hand in, in circulation after he dies'.