National Conference on Reconciliation, Multiculturalism,Immigration and Human Rights

Dr Michael Leahy
Ph D student, Deakin University, Faculty of Arts

Reconciliation with our indigenous peoples: a matter of justice, but justice conceived as indiviudal rights or obligations under a common good?

Both 'liberal individualists' and 'communitarians' can agree that Reconciliation with our indigenous peoples is a matter of justice but they differ profoundly on how justice is to be conceived. The NCAR documents' frequent expression of indigenous claims in terms of 'rights' of communities creates problems for both conceptions of justice. 'Rights', though proper to the 'liberal individualist' conception, belong only to individuals; communities, having no identities as such, cannot, on this conception, be the bearers of rights. For communitarians, the value of the notion of rights for understanding Reconciliation with peoples claiming community identities is thus shown to be limited. In this paper I argue for a communitarian conception of justice which affirms the communal dimension of individual identity, and defines claims such as those of our indigenous peoples in terms of mutual obligations arising out of allegiance to a common good.

Dr Leahy is completing a second Ph D, this one with a thesis titled Is Social Justice Possible? A critical of Hayek, Rawls and MacIntyre. Dr Leahy is also President of the Geelong 'One Fire' Reconciliation Group. He also has numerous publications in journals of educational philosophy.

Presentation Type
30 min paper

University of Technology, Sydney, 1-2 December 2000

Papers & Workshops