Conflicting claims about culture are a familiar refrain of political life in the contemporary world. On one side, majorities seek to fashion the state in their own image, while on the other, cultural minorities press for greater recognition and accommodation. Theories of liberal democracy are at odds about the merits of these competing claims. Multicultural liberals hold that particular minority rights are a requirement of justice conceived of in a broadly liberal fashion. Critics, in turn, have questioned the motivations, coherence and normative validity of such defenses of multiculturalism.
In Equal Recognition, Alan Patten, the Howard Harrison and Gabrielle Snyder Beck Professor of Politics, reasserts the case in favor of liberal multiculturalism by developing a new ethical defense of minority rights. He describes a new, nonessentialist account of culture, and he rehabilitates and reconceptualizes the idea of liberal neutrality and uses this idea to develop a distinctive normative argument for minority rights.
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