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Getting Multiculturalism Right: Deontology and the Concern for Neutrality

Matthew Johnson
  • Lecturer in Politics, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YL, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
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Published Online: 2017-05-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0004


In recent years, the notion of pluralism or, as it is often termed, “multiculturalism,” has been subject to critique by a range of public figures on the right of the political spectrum, such as David Cameron, Angela Merkel and Donald Trump. While “multiculturalism” is presented as being antithetical to the traditions of Western societies, it is, in fact, grounded in the same liberal tradition of individual rights as that invoked by those on the right. This article aims to outline the intellectual tradition of deontological or rights-based pluralism, demonstrating that it is an inherent part of the liberal political tradition upon which modern liberal democracies are formed. By tracing ideas derived from John Locke and Immanuel Kant and developed in the modern world by Will Kymlicka, John Rawls and Chandran Kukathas, this article seeks to enable those beyond the discipline of political philosophy to understand the ways in which rejecting pluralism means rejecting core commitments to equality, neutrality, respect and fairness.

Keywords: multiculturalism; pluralism; liberalism; deontology; neutrality


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About the article

Received: 2016-12-23

Accepted: 2017-04-15

Published Online: 2017-05-19

Published in Print: 2017-01-26

Citation Information: Open Cultural Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 32–45, ISSN (Online) 2451-3474, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/culture-2017-0004.

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© 2017. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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