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Debating Multiculturalism

Should There be Minority Rights?

Patti Tamara Lenard and Peter Balint

April 2022

ISBN: 9780197528389

320 pages

In Stock

Debating Ethics

Price: £16.99



Multiculturalism has been subject to backlashes across democratic states. These voices argue that after years of accommodation, minorities have failed to integrate and ought to be encouraged more forcefully to abandon norms and values that are in tension with those of their broader society. In this context, Debating Multiculturalism brings together two prominent scholars of the political theory of multiculturalism. Both agree with the need for minority accommodation in liberal democracies, but disagree on the pathway forward. Patti Tamara Lenard argues that because of the importance of political inclusion, minorities should almost always be granted the rights they seek. In contrast, Peter Balint argues that there is no need for minority rights as liberal neutrality is a dynamic and fair method of accommodating all ways of life, including those of minorities.

  • Provides fresh angles, both for and against, on multiculturalism
  • Features direct engagement between authors on the merits and demerits of minority rights
  • Confronts difficult and complex issues raised by ethnic and racial diversity in democratic states
  • Remains rich with real-life examples to illustrate key theoretical claims

About the Author(s)

Patti Tamara Lenard, Professor of Applied Ethics, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa, and Peter Balint, Senior Lecturer in International & Political Studies, UNSW Canberra

Peter Balint is a Senior Lecturer in International & Political Studies at UNSW Canberra. His most recent book Respecting Toleration: Traditional Liberalism and Contemporary Diversity (Oxford University Press, 2017), was awarded an APSA CRISP Prize in 2018. His research is in political theory and is primarily focussed on the principles for diversity, including respect, toleration, neutrality, and social cohesion. He is regularly asked to consult government on issues of migration, multiculturalism, and citizenship. Patti Tamara Lenard is Professor of Applied Ethics in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa.. She is the author of Trust, Democracy and Multicultural Challenges (Penn State, 2012) and How Should Democracies Fight Terrorism? (Polity, 2020). She is active in the fields of political theory of migration, counter-terrorism, and democracy more generally. In Ottawa, she runs a small community organization called Rainbow Haven, which

sponsors, settles and advocates for LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers.

Table of Contents

    Introduction: Multiculturalism and Minority Rights
    Peter Balint & Patti Tamara Lenard
    PART I: Pro Multiculturalism
    Patti Tamara Lenard
    Chapter 1: Introduction to Part I
    Chapter 2: What is Culture? Why Political Inclusion?
    Chapter 3: Cultural Claims and Political Inclusion
    Chapter 4: Cultural Preservation and Multicultural Accommodation
    Chapter 5: Non-Interference and Political Inclusion
    Chapter 6: Shared Public Culture in Diverse States
    PART II: Against Multicultural Minority Rights
    Peter Balint
    Chapter 7: Introduction to Part II
    Chapter 8: We are All Neutralists Now!
    Chapter 9: Neutrality without Minority Rights
    Chapter 10: National Minorities, Indigenous Peoples, and Historical Injustice
    Chapter 11: Multiculturalism and the Demands on Citizens
    Chapter 12: Conclusion to Part II
    Part III: Responses
    Chapter 13: Response to Balint
    Culture not Colanders: Why Neutralism Fails to Respond Effectively to the Challenges of Cultural Diversity
    Patti Tamara Lenard
    Chapter 14: Response to Lenard
    Multiculturalism without Minority (or Majority) Rights
    Peter Balint


"To this reader at least, this lively debate volume shows very clearly that traditional liberalism, with its core principles of public neutrality and toleration, requires multiculturalism—the position laid out here by Peter Balint. Others will find in Patti Lenard`s 'political inclusion' model a new way of defending a more orthodox multiculturalism of minority rights. But the perhaps most powerful message of this book is the narrow range of disagreement on the necessity of multiculturalism in liberal-democratic societies." - Christian Joppke, University of Bern (Switzerland)

"Has multiculturalism failed, and if so, why has it failed? Lenard and Balint explore these questions while offering their positions for and against multiculturalism. Lenard justifies multiculturalism on the basis of political inclusion. Balint criticizes multiculturalism on the basis of liberal neutrality. The authors broadly agree about the ideals of liberal democracy and they both take minority rights seriously. But they disagree about the 'knowability' of culture, the application of multiculturalism to Indigenous peoples and national minorities, and the sources and risks of social fragmentation. Readers will find two cogent arguments and an illuminating debate that remind us why multicultural ideals are still worth defending and yet remain contested today." - Avigail Eisenberg, University of Victoria (Canada)