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Document Details :
Title: Liberalist Multiculturalism and Will
Subtitle: Kymlicka's Uneasy Relation with Religious Pluralism
Author(s): NEWMAN, Dwight G.
Volume: 64 Issue: 3 Date: 2003
This article analyses the relationship between liberal multiculturalist political philosophy and religious pluralism, examining Will Kymlicka’s writings as a central example of liberal multiculturalism. The article explains that liberal multiculturalism seeks to reconcile liberalism and cultural diversity by arguing that protections of cultural identity actually protect individuals in a manner compatible with liberalism. It argues that Kymlicka’s writings manifest both an inattention to religious minorities and a misattention that privileges culture over religion. Various examples from his writings suggest that he has treated religion as a side issue and given priority to culture, resulting in some rather particular factual characterizations of examples touching on religion and some practical conclusions that simply do not correspond to the importance of religion and religious diversity. The article argues that these problems constitute a potentially fatal flaw, because they mean that Kymlicka’s writings, rather than bringing together liberalism and multiculturalism, are in tension both with liberal principles of religious toleration and with key theoretical rationales for multiculturalism. Religious freedom is key to liberalism because religious participation is a key means by which believers find meaning in their lives. Multiculturalism’s theoretical rationales for recognizing cultural communities as important components of identity also apply to religious communities. If liberal multiculturalism does not treat religion appropriately, it is in tension with its own foundations. In the concluding section, the article gestures in some theoretical and policy directions, arguing for a much greater openness to religion in the public sphere in an ecumenical dialogue of cultures and religions.