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Balkan Journal of Philosophy

Volume 10, Issue 2, 2018

Slobodan Divjak
Pages 147-163
DOI: 10.5840/bjp201810218

Communitarianism, Multiculturalism and Liberalism

In the first part of this text, the author exposes the main features of the liberal or civic state, because both communitarians and multiculturalists tend to criticize that type of state. Their critique of the liberal state and the liberal self as an unencumbered self is “culturalist” by its character. However, it is an expression of conceptual confusion, i.e. of their incomprehension of an essential difference between two conceptual levels: one that belongs to the purely normative rights-justifying perspective and the other that refers to the ontological perspective. Consequently, both of them reject the central liberal thesis according to which the right is prior to the good. The author agrees with an assessment of Richard Robson that multiculturalism is only a form of communitarianism. Contrary to communitarians and multiculturalists, he additionally argues that collective rights are incompatible with the civic state in its pure form because there are structural differences between civic and specific minority rights. Further, the author attempts to show that communitarianism and multiculturalism are forms of postmodernism. Namely, brought to their ultimate logical consequences, the mentioned orientations can be connected to the postmodern notion of radical, irreducible difference. In the conclusive part of the text, he summarizes the common points of communitarianism and multiculturalism and emphasizes the importance of these contemporary theoretical tendencies.