Liberal multiculturalism: An oxymoron?

Philosophical Forum 38 (1):23–41 (2007)
Abstract
Will Kymlicka argues that societal culture matters to liberalism because it contributes to its members’ freedom. If so, multiculturalism that advocates group rights to sustain minority societal cultures in the liberal West is in fact entailed by liberalism, the core value of which is individual freedom. “Freedom,” then, functions as the main bridge between liberalism and multiculturalism in Kymlicka’s position. Kymlicka is correct that societal culture contributes to its members’ freedom by providing them with meaningful options. The sense of freedom enabled by culture, however, is not equivalent to the notion of freedom advocated by mainstream liberalism, liberal autonomy. I argue in this paper that Kymlicka’s liberal multiculturalism is an inconsistent and therefore implausible theoretical construct because Kymlicka unwittingly equivocates on “freedom” in using its two distinct senses interchangeably.
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