|Minority rights: Minority rights are the rights of individuals and groups who differ from the dominant group in society, such as ethnic, religious, linguistic, or sexual minorities. These rights are intended to protect minorities from discrimination and to ensure that they have equal opportunities to participate in society. See also Minorities, Majority, Society, Justice, Discrimination._____________Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments. |
Political Philosophy on Minority Rights - Dictionary of Arguments
Gaus I 253
Minority rights/Political Philosophy/Kukathas: [Will] Kymlicka's(1) defence of group-differentiated rights immediately raised a range of questions and problems, and the literature on multiculturalism over the past decade has tackled many of them.
Group rights: The first issue to be addressed was the question of whether groups could properly be the bearers of rights. To some it was plain that they could not: only individuals could have rights (Narveson, 1991(2); Hartney, 1991(3)). According to one view, groups were fictitious entities - and fictitious entities could not be rights bearers (Graf, 1994(4): 194). Yet in spite of such reservations, political theory has in recent years (with the rise of multiculturalism) become much more sympathetic to the idea of group rights.
History: Even before multiculturalism acquired its current prominence, however, some philosophers had already advanced accounts of group rights. Joseph Raz (1986(5): 207—8), for example, in his influential account of rights leaves space for collective rights. Larry May (1987(6): 180), while remaining cautious about the extent to which groups should be recognized as rights holders, argued that moral theorists needed to examine more closely the actions and interests of social groups as possible bearers of rights and responsibilities. And Frances Svensson (1979)(7) had earlier suggested that group rights were needed to do justice to the claims of native peoples.
VsMulticulturalism: Nonetheless, theorists (or critics) of multiculturalism did not always mean the same thing when they invoked group rights or 'cultural' rights.
Levy: The most helpful elucidation of the different kinds of rights claims made on behalf of cultural groups was offered by Jacob Levy (1997(8): 24—5), who distinguished eight categories of rights.
Group rights: The consensus of opinion is that it is quite possible for groups to have rights, or for rights to be accorded both to groups and to individuals on the basis of identity. A group may hold a right as an independently recognized entity; and individuals may hold particular rights because they are members of particular collectivities.
Problems: Nonetheless, this issue has remained controversial because of the implications of granting rights on the basis of group membership.
Freedom/oppression: As Peter Jones put it, 'Group rights are often articulated as demands for group freedom, but they are also feared as vehicles for group oppression' (1999(9): 354).
VsRaz: Thus Raz's view of group rights, though widely accepted (Brett, 1991(10); Freeman, 1995(11); Margalit and Halbertal, 1994(12)), has been criticized for being too capacious in as much
as it identifies groups as no more than collectivities of individuals who share nothing more enduring than an interest in a matter (Réaume, 1988(13); 1994(14); Jones, 1999(9): 359).
Content/education/problems: The demands of some groups for rights in the form of exemptions, for example, have generated a substantial debate about the implications of such special rights. This debate becomes especially vigorous, however, when particular issues become salient: religion,
education, and children.
Children/religion: While most liberal defenders of multiculturalism have been ready to grant cultural minorities the right to live by their own beliefs, children and education have raised special problems. For many, the limits of multiculturalism are set by the need to protect the interests of children, which override even the rights of parents or communities to inculcate their own religious beliefs.
>Religion, >Religious belief, >Multiculturalism.
1. Kymlicka, Will (1995a) Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2. Narveson, Jan (1991) 'Collective rights?' Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, 4: 329—45.
3. Hartney, Michael (1991) 'Some confusions concerning collective rights'. Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, 4: 293-314.
4. Graf, James A. (1994) 'Human rights, peoples, and the right to self-determination'. In Judith Baker, ed., Gmup Rights. Toronto: Umversity of Toronto Press, 186—214.
5. Raz, Joseph (1986) The Morality of Freedom. Oxford: Clarendon.
6. May, Larry (1987) The Morality of Gmups: Collective Responsibility, Group-Based Harm, and Corporate Rights. Notre Dame, In: University of Notre Dame
7. Svensson, Frances (1979) 'Liberal democracy and group rights: the legacy of individualism and its impact on American Indian tribes'. Political Studies, 23 (3): 421-39.
8. Levy, Jacob (1997) 'Classifying cultural rights'. In Will Kymlicka and Ian Shapiro, eds, Ethnicity and Group Rights: NOMOS xxwx New York: New York University Press, 22—66.
9. Jones, Peter (1999) 'Group rights and group oppression'. Journal ofP01itica1 Philosophy, 7 (4): 353-77.
10. Brett, Nathan (1991) 'Language laws and collective rights'. Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, 4: 347_60.
11. Freeman, Michael (1995) 'Are there collective human rights?' Political Studies, Special Issue, 43: 25—40.
12. Margalit, Avishai and Moshe Halbertal (1994) 'Liberalism and the right to culture'. Social Research, 61: 491-510.
13. Réaume, Denise G. (1988) 'Individuals, groups, and rights to public goods'. University of Toronto Law Journal, 38: 1-27.
14.Réaume, Denise G. (1994) 'The group right to linguistic security: Whose right? What duties?' In Judith Baker ed., Gmup Rights. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 118-41.
Kukathas, Chandran 2004. „Nationalism and Multiculturalism“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Gerald F. Gaus
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004