Argument: Multiculturalism sacrifices individual rights to group rights

Issue Report: Multiculturalism vs. assimilation


  • Susan Moller Okin. “Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?”. Boston Review. 1999 – “Some proponents of group rights argue that even cultures that “flout the rights of [their individual members] in a liberal society”3 should be accorded group rights or privileges if their minority status endangers the culture’s continued existence. Others do not claim that all minority cultural groups should have special rights, but rather that such groups—even illiberal ones, that violate their individual members’ rights, requiring them to conform to group beliefs or norms—have the right to be “let alone” in a liberal society.4 Both claims seem clearly inconsistent with the basic liberal value of individual freedom, which entails that group rights should not trump the individual rights of their members; thus, I will not address the problems they present for feminists here.5 But some defenders of multiculturalism largely confine their defense of group rights to groups that are internally liberal.6 Even with these restrictions, feminists—anyone, that is, who endorses the moral equality of men and women—should remain skeptical. So I will argue.”