Nov 9

Colloquium: Anna Moltchanova

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010
4:30 – 6:30 pm / Leighton 303

Anna Moltchanova (Carleton College), "Cooperation in the we-mode, legitimacy and immigrant inclusion"

All are welcome. Participants will be expected to have read the paper in advance. To request a copy, please e-mail Daniel Groll no more than 2 weeks in advance of the presentation.

Abstract: This paper discusses the terms of membership a liberal-democratic society ought to offer to its immigrant citizens to preserve its legitimacy. I will frame my discussion utilizing notions put forward by Raimo Tuomela in The Philosophy of Sociality and concentrate on the content of the group ethos that allows immigrants to cooperate as group members in the we-mode (as opposed to their cooperation in the I-mode).

A we-mode social  group accepts the set of the constitutive goals, values, beliefs, standards, norms, practices and/or traditions that give the group motivating reasons for action; the group is committed to this group ethos. If the group ethos is tied to the national values and practices of the receiving culture that are not in complete accord with cultural values and practices of immigrants, the terms of the immigrants’ social and political integration the group ethos offers prevent them from cooperating  in the we-mode. First, I show that the legitimacy of political decisions in a liberal democracy requires that the group ethos should not prevent immigrants from cooperating in the we-mode. For example, a Muslim teacher prohibited from wearing a head scarf at work may cooperate in the I-mode based on her self-interest in keeping her job. But she would not accept the ethos of the group in the we-mode because  the majority’s interests are formulated so that they cannot in principle be generalized in terms of political norms that include the immigrant’s culture. When two of the German provincial legislations passed bills banning the wearing of headscarves but not religious symbols of other traditions (Christian and Jewish) in schools,  the ethos promoted in the decision reflected a historically rigid societal view of how liberal values should be practiced.

My main task is to examine the terms of transformation of the group ethos that should accompany the changes of membership resulting from immigration to allow immigrant cooperation in the we-mode while preserving liberal-democratic values. This would allow the notion of group ethos to describe social cohesion not only in culturally stable groups, but also in fluid societies that accept immigrants, including those from cultures significantly different from the receiving culture. For example, the “othering” of immigrants, like those from Eastern Europe, a process described by Modood et al. as taking place in the EU, allows citizens of the host country to foster their national identity in opposition to the immigrants’ identity.  Positioning the national character against immigrant values prevents the participants of the political process from the articulation of the group ethos inclusive of the entire population in the territory of the state.

Finally, I will show that the conceptual framework based on Tuomela’s notion of cooperation in the we-mode is better at determining the terms of legitimate immigrant inclusion than the leading theories of public reason, including deliberative democracy,  because the latter only describe the terms of cooperation in the I-mode.  


Raimo Tuomela, The philosophy of sociality: the shared point of view (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 16.

Seyla Benhabib, The Rights of Others: Aliens, residents and Citizens (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004),  p. 200.

Modood, Triandafyllidou and Zapata-Barrero, “European Challenges to multicultural citizenship: Muslism, secularism and beyond,” pp. 1-22 in Tariq Modood, Anna Triandafyllidou, Ricard Zapata-Barrero (eds.), Multiculturalism, Muslims, and Citizenship (London: Routledge, 2006), p. 12.

Sponsored by Philosophy. Contact: Daniel Groll, philosophy, x4219