Politics today is marked by tension between claims of universal human rights and diversity. From the war on terror to immigration, one of the major challenges facing liberalism is to understand the scope of equality in a world in which certain peoples are perceived to reject and/or violently resist democratic principles.

This book revisits Europe’s initial encounter with the Native Americans of the New World to shed light on how the West’s initial defense of so-called ‘barbarians’ has influenced the way we think about diversity today, and elucidate the arguments of exclusion that unconsciously permeate the moral world we live in. In doing so, Daniel R. Brunstetter traces Bartolomé de Las Casas’s oft heralded defense of the Native Americans in the sixteenth century through the French Enlightenment. While this defense has been rightly lauded as an early example of human rights discourse, tracing Las Casas’s arguments into the eighteenth century shows how his view of equality enabled arguments legitimizing the annihilation by ‘just’ war of those perceived to be ‘barbarians’.

This philosophical narrative can be useful when thinking about concepts such as just war, multiculturalism, and immigration, or any area in which politics confronts radical difference.

chapter |16 pages

Modernity and the Other

A Story of Inequality

chapter |29 pages

Thinking and Rethinking the Equality of the Other

Vitoria, Sepúlveda, and the True Barbarians

chapter |32 pages

Las Casas and the Other

The Tension between Equality and Cultural Othercide

chapter |41 pages

From the Civilizing Mission to Irreconcilable Alterity

The Changing Perception of the Indians in the French Enlightenment

chapter |38 pages

The Other Side of Modernity

Legitimizing the Transition from Cultural Othercide to Physical Othercide

chapter |12 pages


Looking to the Future—Quo Vadis?