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1st Edition
Contents:
  1. UBC Theses and Dissertations
  2. Isaiah Berlin - Wikipedia
  3. ISBN 13: 9780415365017

Furthermore, the limits that Kymlicka places upon multicultural rights are limited in order to protect what Kymlicka terms "social justice. In outlining the thesis of the book Multicultural Citizenship, Kymlicka states that " A liberal theory of minority rights, therefore, must explain how minority 51 examining the forms justice and injustice that arise from liberal multiculturalism, this chapter will now devote particular attention to closely examining Kymlicka's thoughts on justice and fairness in his theory of liberal multicultural rights.

This section will first describe how Kymlicka sees his model of multicultural citizenship as promoting multicultural justice. Next, this chapter will explain the limitations that Kymlicka imposes upon multiculturalism and the reasons why he imposes these limits. For Wil l Kymlicka, justice in the context of cultural minority rights is based upon a particular interpretation of liberalism.


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Kymlicka refers to the ideas of John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin to explain "that justice requires removing or compensating for undeserved or 'morally arbitrary' disadvantages, particularly if these are 'profound and 90fi pervasive and present from birth. For Kymlicka, group rights provide a way of advancing equality of opportunity and freedom for individuals who are disadvantaged by the morally arbitrary characteristics associated with culture and race. Kymlicka argues that the approach to justice employed by Dworkin and Rawls provides an equality-based argument for protecting cultural minority rights.

UBC Theses and Dissertations

However, Kymlicka does not extend this argument to other forms of inequality that are based on "morally arbitrary" characteristics that impede equality of opportunity rights co-exist with human rights and how minority rights are limited by principles of individual liberty, democracy and social justice. Kymlicka contrasts this approach to liberalism with the dominant approach to diversity and rights employed by contemporary liberal democracies. Kymlicka argues that liberal neutralism has been the archetype for dealing with citizens in liberal democratic states. Liberal neutrality is based upon the assertion that there is a "strict separation of state and ethnicity" and as a result, the universal rights granted to all citizens is adequate; there is no need to assign special rights to particular groups of people within society.

For example, states have official languages and many Western states have Christian religious references in state documents, national anthems and mottos. Multicultural justice is attained by treating citizens with "the same concern and respect" rather than treating citizens identically regardless of their particular circumstances. James Fishkin identifies the family as a "crucial source of inequality in modern society that has gone largely unexamined in the theory of distributive justice.

Susan Moller Okin contends that theories of justice typically do not address barriers to justice within the family and often assume a sexist family structure in the private sphere to support the public sphere.

Kymlicka associates this liberal approach with Michael Walzer, Nathan Glazer and contemporary American attitudes towards culturally diversity. The historical arguments are applicable to national groups as these cultural minorities have the right to self-determination under international law and many of these groups also have historical agreements that are legally and morally binding. The historical agreements made between national minorities and the national majority during the creation of the state must be respected, and honoured in order to secure justice for these cultural minorities.

While Kymlicka is supportive of special rights for cultural minorities, he insists that there are limits to cultural tolerance. With respect to national minorities, Kymlicka states that "liberal principles set limits on how national groups go about nation-building. Liberal principles will preclude any attempts at ethnic cleansing, or stripping people of their citizenship, or the violation of human rights.

This process involves "promoting a common language, and a sense of common membership in, and equal access to, the social institutions based on that language. In the case of immigrant minorities, Kymlicka asserts that looking at multiculturalism as a way of promoting fair terms for immigrant groups to integrate into the societal culture enables us to the see the limits of cultural tolerance.


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This may entail that "certain services should be available in the immigrants' mother tongue, and support should be provided for those organizations and groups within immigrant communities which assist in the settlement and integration process. For Kymlicka, the idea of universal human rights is a "good" that cannot be compromised or diminished. As such, his model of minority rights prevents minority groups from limiting the ability of individual members of the group from exercising their individual freedoms.

In order to secure universal human rights for all Canadians, irrespective of ethnicity, Kymlicka asserts that internal restrictions are inappropriate for immigrant groups. While Kymlicka is a proponent of human rights, he believes that human rights alone do not provide a sufficient mechanism for promoting justice in diverse societies. In addition to the limit of universal human rights, Kymlicka argues that liberalism provides a limit for multicultural citizenship.

Liberalism is the standard by which Kymlicka evaluates the practices and perspectives of ethnocultural groups to determine whether they are consistent with multiculturalism.

Isaiah Berlin - Wikipedia

From Kymlicka's perspective, illiberal cultural practices are not sustainable in a liberal multicultural context. For Kymlicka, liberalism provides a mechanism forjudging and evaluating the practices of cultural minority groups while at the same time, making multiculturalism more palatable to the members of the mainstream societal culture who may be concerned about multiculturalism. Kymlicka states: To be sure, liberal principles also set limits on minority rights. Given the priority liberals accord to individual autonomy, any scheme of minority rights must not be allowed to unduly restrict individual choices.

Whereas critics tends to assume that minority rights necessarily involve restricting individual rights, and hence as threatening basic democratic values, defenders typically insist that at least some minority rights can be seen as supplementing individual rights, and hence enriching and extending traditional liberal democratic principles to deal with new challenges. First, liberalism provides a limit for the behaviour and activities of 2 1 9 Wi l l Kymlicka, Finding Our Way, Secondly, liberalism assists in allaying the fears of members of the dominant culture who may be concerned about the potential threat that multiculturalism poses to liberal democracy.

In examining Kymlicka's theory of minority rights, Kymlicka's conception of multicultural justice is evident.

This approach to justice draws upon multiple perspectives. First, Kymlicka's theory of multicultural justice follows the formulation of justice as treating individuals with equal concern and respect. This tradition is commonly associated with contemporary thinkers like Rawls and Dworkin whereby justice entails treating "each according to his needs.

This formulation of justice "works towards settling the obligations of society towards each of its members. This approach requires the re-allocation of societal benefits for the purpose of achieving a more equitable distribution of "goods" among citizens. Finally, Kymlicka's approach to justice is guided by his liberalism that prioritizes equality of opportunity and freedom within his theory.

The conceptions of justice that Kymlicka employs are used for the sake of furthering the liberal principles that he believes are primary in diverse societies: cultural equality of opportunity and cultural freedom. Wil l Kymlicka's theory of minority rights is a comprehensive articulation of the liberal multicultural perspective. Kymlicka's approach is based upon a particular liberal vision that sees cultural diversity as a means to the liberal ends of promoting equality and 2 2 4 Wil l Kymlicka, The New Debate Over Minority Rights, 5.

Subsequent chapters will analyze Kymlicka's theory from Berlin's pluralist perspective to illustrate the forms of injustice that are likely to arise from Kymlicka's model. Kymlicka seeks to secure justice for ethnocultural groups by redistributing rights in society to enable weaker cultural communities to enjoy cultural freedom and equality of opportunity in spite of the powerful position of the dominant cultural group s in society.

A pluralist analysis of Kymlicka's theory reveals the problems that result from the emphasis that Kymlicka places upon distributive justice. In addition, a pluralist approach highlights the injustices that are created by the distinction that Kymlicka constructs between nations and immigrants. These concerns will be explored in this chapter.

In the subsequent chapter, liberalism in Kymlicka's theory will be examined; revealing the consequences of relying upon the rights model, combining liberalism and pluralism, and positing liberalism as a standard for mediating between claims of justice. Wil l Kymlicka's model of minority rights is intended to promote multicultural justice by securing freedom and equal opportunity to all irrespective of cultural heritage.

One source to which Kymlicka looks for guidance in administering this justice is the distributive paradigm. As discussed in Chapter One, Kymlicka identifies John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin as theorists who have influenced his notion of cultural minority rights. He adopts Dworkin's definition of equality as treating individuals "as entitled to equal concern and respect.

In addition to incorporating these principles of justice, Kymlicka adopts a distributive manner of administering justice as a way of implementing the principles of justice. For Kymlicka, distribution is a significantly important component of theorizing and practicing multicultural justice.


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  • His theory of multicultural justice focuses on the distribution of rights to individuals and to groups. With respect to individuals, Kymlicka firmly believes in the sanctity of human rights. He insists that universal human rights exist and that violating these rights is unacceptable. He divides ethnocultural groups into national groups and immigrant groups and distributes rights according to this model. Both national and immigrant groups are entitled to special representation rights. However, national groups are also entitled to the rights of self-government while immigrant groups are allotted less powerful polyethnic rights.

    ISBN 13: 9780415365017

    Special representation rights relate to compensating for the under-representation of ethnocultural minorities in decision-making bodies such as legislatures. Kymlicka sees group representation "as a response to oppression or systemic disadvantage. Polyethnic rights make the process of integration more hospitable to immigrants. Included in this set of rights is public funding of cultural events and the re-evaluation of practices that privilege the majority culture.

    For Kymlicka, the importance of remedying the imbalances that exist between majority cultures and minority cultures is an important task and justice requires that individuals who are disadvantaged by the morally arbitrary cultural characteristics that they possess be assisted in order to secure justice. Kymlicka's approach to the distribution of ethnocultural rights is beneficial in the sense that it identifies group rights and revised models of representation as legitimate ways of reforming society.

    However, in analyzing Kymlicka's distributive paradigm of justice from a pluralist perspective, two categories of problems are illuminated. The first cluster of problems are general in nature and they relate to the weaknesses of theories of justice that unduly privilege the distributive paradigm. Iris Marion Young's exploration of distributive justice indicates that a theory of justice must recognize that not all issues are best thought of as problems of unfair distribution. In fact, the excessive emphasis on distribution conceals forms of oppression that the distributive paradigm cannot address.