Title: Amartya Sen’s Identity Pluralism Applied to Will Kymlicka’s Liberal Multiculturalism
Authors: van Waarden, Betto # ×
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Kluwer Law International
Series Title: International Journal on Minority and Group Rights vol:21 issue:4 pages:527-546
Abstract: Multicultural theory pays surprisingly little attention to the plurality of identity. In
addition, there is still dissatisfaction with Will Kymlicka’s distinction between polyethnic
groups and national minorities and the rights they deserve, as well as continued
criticism of liberal multiculturalism more broadly. I revisit this distinction based
on Amartya Sen’s recent effort to introduce the notion of identity pluralism into liberal
debates. In Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (W.W. Norton and
Company, New York, 2006), Sen stresses the importance of maintaining political stability
through individuals’ plural identities mainly in relation to religious divides and
global conflict. Sen’s theory is criticised for being too abstract, but I interpret these
abstract ideas to criticise Kymlicka’s distinction between polyethnic groups and
national minorities and strengthen liberal multiculturalism. I argue that the notion of
identity pluralism implies that a state must promote multicultural ‘participation
rights’ for all minority identities, rather than ‘accommodation rights’ for polyethnic
groups and ‘self-government rights’ for national minorities as Kymlicka contends.
Consequently, regions like Quebec, Flanders and Catalonia would not merit the level
of autonomy they currently enjoy, and Scotland should not be granted independence
from the United Kingdom.
ISSN: 1385-4879
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Non-KU Leuven Association publications
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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