Multiculturalism and Accommodative Liberalism Revisited




Ramraj, Victor V.

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Singapore Journal of Legal Studies


In an earlier volume, I argued that state policies based on ethno-racial essentialism were undesirable and that accommodative liberalism provided a commendable alternative, enabling states to take seriously the need for ethnic groups to protect their cultural institutions and respective identities without resorting to essentialist assumptions. These arguments have since been subject to critical scrutiny by Lim Chin Leng in his essay, "Multicultural Constitutionalism." I respond to Lim's criticisms, arguing: (a) that accommodative liberalism takes group rights seriously and does not collapse into atomistic individualism; (b) that accommodative liberalism can protect group rights without resorting to essentialist assumptions; and (c) that despite its parochial origins in western political thought, accommodative liberalism does have something to contribute to the wider debate about multicultural policy, even in Southeast Asia. Accommodative liberalism, I argue, represents a plausible attempt to construct a "big tent"--a flexible approach to pluralism and tolerance in diverse societies.




Ramraj, V. V. (2005). Multiculturalism and accommodative liberalism revisited. Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, 159-169.