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Beyond liberal multicultural toleration: A critical approach to groups' essentialism

Abstract : The article will argue that, despite Will Kymlicka's claims to the contrary, the concept of 'multicultural toleration' implicitly entails an essentialist concept of groups, which amounts to holding a negative 'permission', power-loaded conception of toleration and not a positive liberal 'respect' conception. This seems contradictory to the general goal of Kymlicka's multiculturalism. This article will then argue that multicultural toleration is not a satisfactory concept, neither from a conceptual point of view (it is incoherent) nor from a practical point of view (it disregards important aspects of political life). Nonetheless, multiculturalism poses the question of toleration at the correct level of group relations. This article will try to sustain the double requirement of, on one hand, trying to place toleration in a collective frame and, on the other, refusing the essentialist concept of groups used by multiculturalism. The way out of this difficulty can be found in a critical 'non-domination' conception of toleration. This article deals with two questions: first, what is specifically 'multicultural' about 'multicultural toleration'? The answer to that question makes use of the concept of 'cultural groups'. Indeed, it seems that what makes toleration specifically multicul-tural, as opposed to simply liberal, is that it comes to refer to recognizing as distinct , and refraining from interfering with, the beliefs, attitudes or ways of life of cultural groups or their members. Once this is established, a second question arises: what is needed in order for a cultural group to be an object of tolerance? In other
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Magali Bessone. Beyond liberal multicultural toleration: A critical approach to groups' essentialism. European Journal of Political Theory, SAGE Publications, 2013, 12 (3), pp. 271-287. ⟨10.1177/1474885112465245⟩. ⟨hal-01246220⟩



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