Keywords: personal responsibility, cultural defense, multiculturalism, capacity, rationality, personal identity.
The institutionalization of a «cultural defense» for criminal offenders coming from minority cultures has been often invoked in the past years. But the philosophical ground and the moral limits of this new defense have not sufficiently been explored. Starting from the claim of practical rationality as the basis of personal responsibility, the paper puts forward some conceptual and moral concerns about the idea of an individualization of the judgments of responsibility according to the agent's culture. The main claim is that respect for culture should not cancel respect for the individual offender a rational agent. The discussion of some recent criminal cases involving offences committed in the US by offenders coming from minority cultural groups will serve as an additional clarifying element for the attempt at finding a reasonable balance between respect for minority cultures and recognition of individual responsibility in the criminal law.