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Kymlicka’s Arguement For The Link Between Freedom And Culture In His Work Multicultural Citizenship

2033 words - 9 pages

A main point and perhaps the premise of Kymlicka’s argument in a few words is that ‘Freedom is linked to culture’. His argument was that in order to truly consider ourselves free, we have to belong to a culture. In particular, Kymlicka argues in favour of minority rights, his argument therefore centres on the point that understanding and making sure minority groups continue to exist stands in accordance with liberal thought on justice and can be a factor in enlarging the freedom of individuals. Kymlicka then uses the works of the likes of Ronald Dworkin, John Stuart Mill and John Rawls to support his argument. (Triadafilopoulos, 1997, p. 267) While it is important to note that Kymlicka’s ...view middle of the document...

In other words, it is a culture that can be lived within in that it provides a range of options needed to live a fulfilling life. (Kymlicka, 1995) A state is thus multicultural if its members belong to different nations and therefore different cultures making a multinational state or emigrated from different countries making a polyethnic state. Kymlicka goes on to make the distinction between national minorities and ethnic groups, he explained that while the former come from the incorporation of an entire nation, the former is derived from families and individuals who migrate from different nations. When it comes to the justification of minority, Kymlicka first argues that individual freedom depends on the existence of a societal culture stating that people have a strong bond with their culture. Secondly he argues that liberal justice requires a concern with cultural membership. In this way, Kymlicka makes minority rights justifiable only as long as it works for the good of cultural membership and is protected for both members of cultural minorities as well as majorities. McDonald, 1996, p. 297) Kymlicka maintains that without these rights, minorities are disadvantaged as they are not able to lead their lives according to their own culture as the majorities can. He then goes on to argue that while immigrants contribute and infuse the dominant culture, national minorities rather seek to preserve and adhere to their own culture and while both national minorities and ethnic groups can legitimately lay claim to minority rights, only national minorities are justified in maintaining their own societal culture. As individual liberty is enabled by the fact that people can independently choose their own standard of life and can freely take the decision to change their beliefs on the way they should live their life, societal cultures are important to this process because it provides us the opinions we choose from and also make the options we choose relevant and meaningful to us. As culture defines who we are, moulds our characters and belief systems, it is the determining factor or in other words the reason why we are likely to choose one way of life over another. According to Rawlsian thought, societal culture is an intrinsic good people need as it provides the context within which they make particular choices. (McDonald, 1996, pp. 299-300) Kymlicka argues that the link between individual choice and culture is the first point in the liberal defence of certain group-differentiated rights, stating that ‘For meaningful individual choice to be possible, individuals need not only access to information, the capacity to reflectively evaluate it, and freedom of expression and association. They also need access to a societal culture’. (Kymlicka, 1995, pp.84-85) Kymlicka then goes on to outline more reasons as to why culture is something that people, particularly members of national minorities, must have access to. A main reason is the fact culture is usually very...

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