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The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 3, 2007

Human Rights

Erol Kuyurtar
Pages 51-59

Are Cultural Group Rights against Individual Rights?

This paper focuses on the nature of cultural group rights in relation to individual rights. The recent liberal acceptance that minority cultures should have a collective power over their cultural matters has been challenged by other liberals on the grounds that cultural rights as group rights cannot be reconciled with the basic moral and political principles of liberalism which are derived from individual liberties and rights. Through tackling some liberal arguments against group rights, we reject the view that regards group rights as normatively and practically incompatible with individual rights, and argue that group rights can be defended and justified on the ground that the interests and values protected through them are the shared interests and values of individuals. Thus, whether they are exercised individually or collectively, justifications of all group rights are derived from the interests and values that individuals have as members of the group. Like any other rights, cultural group rights also have some limitations. That is, the rights of a group to preserve its culture are limited by individual human rights, the rights of other relevant groups and the state.

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