Are there any Cultural Rights?

Published by Routledge

Originally published in Group Rights

Find the full chapter here.

At least since the American civil rights movement, many people have become more aware of the harm suffered by ethnic or cultural minorities laboring under discriminatory practices or inequities which have developed over decades, if not centuries. Liberal political theories, it is widely held, assume or argue that the good society is one which is not governed by particular common ends or goals but provides the framework of rights or liberties or duties within which people may pursue their various ends, individually or cooperatively. The liberal response to the multiplicity of religious and moral traditions in modem society has thus been to advocate toleration, as far as possible, of different ways of living. The cultural community and its elite may, of course, share a common interest in the symbolic standing of the group as a whole. From a liberal point of view, the divided nature of cultural communities strengthens the case for not thinking in terms of cultural rights.