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Pluralism and liberalism: reading the Indian Constitution as a philosophical document for Constitutional Patriotism

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2013
JournalCritical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy
Number of pages22
Early online date2/07/12
Original languageEnglish


Liberalism and pluralism are seen as being in tension in liberal Western nation-states, while multiculturalism, as a policy of resource-allocation to minority groups, has been the standard response to pluralisation. This limits the pluralist potential of a constitutional liberalism. The fusion of a liberal theory of autonomous individuality with a pluralist theory of multiple belonging has to look beyond multicultural policy in order to enhance liberal commitments to citizens through pluralist provisions. An analysis of the Indian Constitution’s Fundamental Rights, as a normative document, shows that the citizen can be understood as an autonomous individual given identity through belonging to a plurality of groups. Consequently, rights are taken to accrue to all citizens equally as autonomous individuals, but also by virtue of their belonging to groups, with special provisions made available for vulnerable ones. Rights for a plurality of vulnerable groups should not be seen as illiberal additions but integral to the conception of liberalism. If such a view of citizenship were to be integrated into the liberal constitutions of irreversibly pluralizing Western democracies, then a pluralistic constitutional patriotism could be fostered amongst members of vulnerable groups, while demonstrating that standard liberal rights guarantee equal citizenship for all.