Starting from the current European backlash against multiculturalism this paper argues for rethinking liberal responses to cultural diversity. It examines neutralist, nationalist and pluralist liberal responses and proposes that each of these is tainted by culturalist or statist premises. Liberal defenses of multicultural arrangements and policies should not build on cultural protection as the justifying reason for group differentiated rights and should not consider the sovereign state as the only relevant unit for citizenship and claims to self government. The paper demonstrates then how a political version of liberalism that avoids the traps of culturalism and statism can justify a comprehensive scale of rights ranging from negative cultural liberties via exemptions, non-discrimination, public recognition and special representation of minorities to powers to establish a liberal public culture derived from claims to self government.
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