Moral Universalism and Cultural Difference

Chandran Kukathas

in The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780199548439
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

Moral Universalism and Cultural Difference

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This article examines the relationship between moral universalism and cultural difference. It analyses the problem of how to measure the claims of particular cultures against the demands of universal morality and discusses possible ways to resolve the tension between cultural minorities and the intrusion of the morality of Western liberalism. One prominent solution to this problem attempts to resolve it by identifying special rights to be accorded to cultural groups to enable them to hold on to their particular customs and traditions. The best-known and most influential theory here is that developed by Will Kymlicka, who put the case for the protection of cultural minorities in terms that were consistent with the universalist commitments of a liberal political outlook.

Keywords: moral universalism; cultural difference; universal morality; cultural minorities; Western liberalism; Will Kymlicka

Article.  6759 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Political Theory ; International Relations

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