"Cultural Integrity and Obligations"

by William Sweet, Professor of Philosophy, St Francis Xavier University
Member of the Steering Committee, FISP

Culture and tradition have value - but their value is largely due to the
fact that they cannot be separated from their essential connection with
persons. (What I have elsewhere called) 'cultural integrity' is important as
a model for showing how culture and tradition contribute to, and provide the
parameters for, the growth of societies, persons, and communities. But it
also provides a model to explain the rights of persons to participate in the
construction of their cultures and traditions.
     There are three questions that may be posed in response to such a model
of culture and tradition. First, what is the character of these rights to
participate, and how far do they extend? Second, are there any obligations
attached to these rights? (For example, is there a fundamental obligation to
respect culture and tradition? Do we all have an obligation to participate
in the construction of our cultures and traditions?) And, finally, what do
the answers to these two questions tell us about this model called 'cultural
integrity'? (That is, what more do these answers tell us about the
importance of liberty and rights, about the value of tradition, and about
subjective and objective values?)
     My paper will attempt to address these three questions.