In rejecting the liberal claim to the universality of morals, some contemporary philosophers insist on the danger of reducing the human being to an abstraction. This paper goes beyond this debate. The theoretical core of multiculturalism is the recognition that these universalistic claims can be realised in different ways in different cultures, so as to require a re-conception of the liberal thesis of the well-being and dignity of people. This interpretation of morality cannot be understood within the ideology of nationalism. Replacing nationalism as the common bond of society is thus one of the main political challenges facing multiculturalism. However, any specific policy must presuppose a new social sensitivity: Societies are not made up of majorities and minorities, but of a plurality of cultural groups. This is why the notion of toleration is not enough.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Balliol College, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Publication date: 1998-09-01