The Impossibility of Liberal Rights in a Diverse World
A defining characteristic of a liberal democratic society is the assignment of basic rights and liberties that protect each person’s private sphere. Hence, social choice made in a liberal democratic society must at the very least be consistent with the exercise of each person’s basic rights. However, even when everybody agrees to this basic principle, there could still remain irreconcilable social conflict and disagreement when it comes to the specific assignment of basic rights. This is especially so in a pluralistic society where there is a clash among radically different and incompatible world views. Philosophers have now started to focus on this issue, which now goes by the name “perspectival diversity.” This talk extends the basic social choice theoretic framework of liberal rights by enlarging the domain to include individual perspectives alongside individual preferences. In this new framework, different individuals are able to see or perceive the same social alternative differently based on their own unique perspectives. The formal results of the paper imply that generating a viable social choice that is consistent with the assignment of basic rights can quickly break down once we start to increase the level of perspectival diversity in society.