Multiculturalism and Obligations: Individual, Group, Society, and State

 Multiculturalism and Obligations: Individual, Group, Society, and State.

 Convenor: Domenico Melidoro

Center for Ethics and Global Politics

LUISS University (Rome)

The debate on multiculturalism, independently from its placement within liberalism, has largely been focused on three main issues: 1) the possibility of recognizing some rights to people in reason of their belonging to some sort of groups; 2) the nature and the limits of admissible cultural diversity; 3) the proper attitude of state towards this diversity. A fundamental, but often neglected or underdeveloped, issue concerns the nature and the limits of the obligations binding individuals to the other actors involved in the academic and political controversies over multiculturalism: groups, state, and society understood as that social space between groups and state.

A serious and systematic discussion on the obligations individuals owe to their group, society, and state might have significant consequences on how the other multicultural issues have to be faced. For instance, the strength and the kind of the obligation someone owes to the group to which she belongs might have direct bearings on how we can account for minority rights and for the relationship between individual and the state. The more a group exercise legitimate authority over an individual the more it can constrain individual behaviour and ask for collective rights. From a completely different and less multicultural oriented standpoint, if one aims at denying any legitimate power to groups, one could argue that states are the only legitimate political entities that can bind individuals. Finally, those libertarian or anarchical scholars who object to the legitimacy of the state in favour of the power of the groups have to devote some systematic effort to work out a convincing theory of the obligations binding individuals to groups.

Thus, the connections between traditional multicultural issues and the theory of obligation represents a research field worthy to be explored both from political theorists interested in multiculturalism and from those interested in obligations. A collective work on these questions might enrich both the communities of scholars.

The workshop invites submission on the following (and related) topics:

–          obligations and multiculturalism

–          the obligations of the individuals: groups, society, and state

–          nature and limits of the obligations

–          multiculturalism and the anarchical challenge: individuals with no obligations at all?

–          is a unique theory able to account for all the obligations an individual owe to group, society, and state?

Professor John Horton (Keele University) will be the keynote speaker of the workshop. The other paper givers will be selected through this call for abstracts.

If you are interested in participating in this workshop, please submit an abstract (up to 1000 words) to by June 1st 2014. You will receive notice of the acceptance of the abstract by June 10 2014.