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8 Rev. Const. Stud. 129 (2003)
The Liberal Duty to Recognize Cultures

handle is hein.journals/revicos8 and id is 133 raw text is: THE LIBERAL DUTY TO

Alan Brudner*

The author argues that the dissonance between a
liberal constitutionalorder and the recognition of
diverse cultural communities is surmountable. He
argues that there is a way of legitimating the
application of liberal constitutional norms to
non-liberal cultures provided that one assumes
that all self-reproducing cultures are equally
good. One can then reconcile the liberal duty to
recognize cultures with constraints on cultural
practices that are non-threatening.

L'auteur fait valoir qu'il est possible de
surmonter la dissonance entre l'ordonnance
constitutionnelle lib6rale et la reconnaissance de
diverses communauts culturelles. 11 fait valoir
qu'il existe une mani~re de rendre ligitime
l 'application  de  normes  constitutionnelles
libdrales 6 des cultures non libirales dans la
mesure ofi V on accepte au mime titre toutes les
cultures autoreproductrices. On peut alors
concilier le droit liberal de reconnaftre les
cultures et les contraintes non menafantes de
pratiques culturelles.

Most who have thought about the matter agree that the question regarding the
place of cultural communities in a liberal constitutional order is, at this stage of
the latter's development, the most pressing and troublesome in constitutional
theory. The problem's urgency comes from its defining what is perhaps the last
frontier for liberal constitutionalism, the line at which liberalism must legitimate
not only political authority but also its ways of legitimating authority to people
with other ways of doing so. It is safe to say that the nearly unanimous view of
people who write on this subject is that this task is impossible and that liberalism
must therefore either assert its core principles against non-liberal cultures in the
absence of a non-partisan justification or accept the implications of its partisan
character and reform its constitution along pluralist lines.'
Either path carries implications productive of extreme dissonance in the
liberal conscience. The first betrays liberalism's own principle of rational self-
imposability as the criterion for valid authority and reveals its allegiance to
public reason as the ideological pretense of an imperial power. The second
Albert Abel Professor of Law, University of Toronto.
For representative statements of these alternative positions, see Brian Barry, Culture and
Equality (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001) [Culture and Equality]; James Tully, Strange
Multiplicity: Constitutionalism in an Age of Diversity (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1995).

Revue d'6tudes constitutionnelles

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