Multicultural citizenship in liberal democracy: the proposals of Ch. Taylor, J. Habermas and W. Kymlicka
Modern constitutional democracies are based on political values which, though having a specifically modern legitimacy, have their roots in the Christian-occidental tradition of dualism between the religious-theological and the political-legal order. Multiculturalism in the sense of the presence of groups in democratic societies which do not – like traditionalistic Islam – share a genuine secular understanding of the state poses significant problems regarding both the understanding of citizenship and the politics of recognition of cultural difference. Divergent approaches by Charles Taylor, Jürgen Habermas and Will Kymlicka to this question are presented. Despite of disagreements on important issues, these authors manifest a consensus on two points: (1) that pure proceduralism without any shared understanding of basic values is not sufficient and (2) that the self-understanding of citizenship in a liberal constitutional democracy is not compatible with all cultural traditions. A culturally diversified understanding of citizenship in one and the same democratic society, so the paper concludes, is impossible. Respect for cultural diversity presupposes assimilation of culturally different groups to the constitutional essentials of modern occidental democracies, based on secularity, pluralism and the recognition of political autonomy of citizens.