Course level: Undergraduate

2019 (Fall Term)
Goethe University Frankfurt

Virtually all contemporary states comprise religious minorities, immigrant groups, national minorities, and/or indigenous peoples, who often demand that public policy be crafted in ways that take into account and accommodate their specific practices, beliefs, identities, and worldviews. What is the appropriate response to such demands – should public policy accommodate such demands? Should religious minorities, for example, be exempted from laws that are otherwise generally applicable? Should national groups be granted rights of self- government? Should members of linguistic minorities have rights to receive public services in their own minority language? If so, what are the philosophical grounds and limits of such accommodations? How does the accommodation of minorities square with values such as gender equality or social solidarity? This course engages with these and related questions, surveying recent work in normative, analytical political theory that examines how liberal democracies ought to respond to religious and cultural diversity.

The course divides into three main parts. The first part introduces prominent, general models for thinking about multiculturalism and minority rights. The second part looks at critiques of the general models, e.g. feminist critiques, critiques that revolve around a concern for social solidarity, etc. And the final part of the course attends to several specific institutions and mechanisms by which the state might provide accommodation for minorities, inter alia legal exemptions and so-called ‘cultural defences’, language rights, etc.