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Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy Volume 5$
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David Sobel, Peter Vallentyne, and Steven Wall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198841425

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198841425.001.0001

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Protecting Vulnerable Languages

Protecting Vulnerable Languages

The Public Good Argument

Chapter:
(p.147) 6 Protecting Vulnerable Languages
Source:
Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy Volume 5
Author(s):

Alan Patten

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198841425.003.0006

This chapter explores an important but understudied argument in favor of protections for vulnerable languages. The argument observes that speakers of such languages can face a collective action problem. The question is what interventions by the state to correct such a problem would be consistent with, or even required by, a broadly liberal and egalitarian conception of justice. The chapter identifies two principles that are relevant to answering this question: the unanimity principle, which places strict limits on interventions, and the principle of correction, which licenses a more extensive range of interventions on behalf of vulnerable languages. The principles are in tension with one another but derive from a common source in liberal egalitarian thought. Overall, the right approach is to forge a compromise between the two principles, thus allowing for some interventions on behalf of vulnerable languages to protect against collective action problems.

Keywords:   language, public goods, collective action problems, justice, liberalism

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