The virtue of multiculturalism: Personal transformation, character, and openness to the other

Blaine J. Fowers, Barbara J. Davidov

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


The social, intellectual, and moral movement known as multiculturalism has been enormously influential in psychology. Its ability to reshape psychology has been due to its ethical force, which derives from the attractiveness of its aims of inclusion, social justice, and mutual respect. The cultivation of cultural competence, presented as a developmental process of acquiring self-awareness, cultural knowledge, and skills, is an important emphasis in the multicultural literature. The authors place the cultural competence literature in dialogue with virtue ethics (a contemporary ethical theory derived from Aristotle) to develop a rich and illuminating way for psychologists to understand and embody the personal self-examination, commitment, and transformation required for learning and practicing in a culturally competent manner. According to virtue ethics, multiculturalism can be seen as the pursuit of worthwhile goals that require personal strengths or virtues, knowledge, consistent actions, proper motivation, and practical wisdom. The authors term the virtue of multiculturalism openness to the other and conclude by describing how attention to cultural matters also transforms virtue ethics in important and necessary ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-594
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Character
  • Cultural competence
  • Multiculturalism
  • Virtue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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