The universal pretensions of cultural rights arguments


Many of the most popular liberal arguments for cultural rights all note that the world is formed into groups. But in the attempt to universalise these arguments, it is too often assumed that the nation is the most important of these groups. This focus upon the nation ignores the many and varying bases of self?respect. It overlooks the fact that self?respect may be tied to many different kinds of groups. Further, most discussions of cultural rights are fuelled by the experience of particular groups. Which groups depends on the theorist and issue at hand. The discussion may be sound for the particular group being discussed. But then many cultural rights theorists, in generalising from one case to others, may not have good reason to do so, leading into a mistaken universalism. The study of cultural rights arguments, with closer reference to the case studies that underpin them, should serve to limit illicit generalisation and to illuminate the true value of cultural rights arguments.

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Jeff Spinner-Halev
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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On Nationality.David Miller - 1995 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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