Liberal Multiculturalism, neutrality and the Rule of Law

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Abstract

Most contemporary liberal theories of justice agree that principles of justice should be neutral between citizens’ conceptions of the good life. In this essay, I assume that the liberal doctrine of state neutrality can somehow be defended against its critics. y first aim is to show that a certain connection holds between liberal neutrality, suitably understood, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the Rule of Law.By the ‘Rule of Law’ I mean, as has now become usual among legal theorists, a set of formal and institutional features the law may possess in varying degrees. These features define an ideal, which laws have traditionally been expected to live up to. It is, under many respects, a modest ideal. Specifically, the Rule of Law, by itself, does not guarantee liberal neutrality. But, I argue, there is something neutral about it. More precisely. a specific version of the Rule of Law --I call this ‘Enlightenment Rule of Law’--illuminatingly instantiates part of what is involved in the idea of liberal neutrality.Il show, secondly, that the Rule of Law is part and parcel of what is involved in liberal multiculturalism. I use the label ‘liberal multiculturalism’ in the sense developed by W. Kymlicka. So understood, it designates a loose set of policies, and the principles supporting them, designed to acknowledge and accomodate ethnocultural minorities, and to secure to individuals the good of cultural membership. Laws that fully meet the requirements of the Rule of Law may certainly run counter human rights. Conformity to the Rule of Law, however, is a necessary condition for respecting human rights. Respect for human rights, in turn, is required byliberal multiculturalism. Thus, respect for the Rule of LawL is a necessary condition of liberal ulticulturalism. And, if the Rule of Law expresses part of what is involved in the ideal of liberal neutrality, so too liberal multiculturalism may be understood accordingly.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)559-599
Numero di pagine41
RivistaDIRITTO & QUESTIONI PUBBLICHE
Volumen. 11
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2011

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