The Liberal Duty to Recognize Cultures


in Constitutional Goods

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780199225798
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191706516 | DOI:
The Liberal Duty to Recognize Cultures

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How can liberal states respect the ways of cultural communities without surrendering the authority of liberal public reason? How can cultural communities recognize the authority of liberal public reason without surrendering their moral independence? This chapter argues that a liberal duty to recognize cultures can be reconciled with strong constraints on a culture's practices that do not appear to nonliberal cultures as alien impositions. Cultural membership is a liberal good because it is a source of individual worth. Yet it is insufficient for individual worth because it fails to satisfy the autonomous personality that cultures themselves partially recognize. The good of culture is thus a constituent element of the community sufficient for dignity, which also promotes self-authorship. This framework is applied to delimit both a liberal state's authority to restrict liberty for the sake of cultural survival and its duty to accommodate the nonegalitarian practices of a cultural group.

Keywords: liberalism; culture; race; political community; hate speech; polygamy; religious accommodation

Chapter.  17566 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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