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Law & Ethics of Human Rights

Editor-in-Chief: Stopler, Gila

Editorial Board: Benvenisti, Eyal / Cohen-Eliya, Moshe / Macedo, Stephen / Rosenblum, Nancy

CiteScore 2017: 0.16

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.195
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.140

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Volume 1, Issue 1


Economic Opportunities and the Protection of Minority Languages

Julie Chi-hye Suk
  • 1Yeshiva University Assistant Professor of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.
  • Other articles by this author:
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Published Online: 2007-01-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1938-2545.1004

In this Article, Professor Suk defends the moral legitimacy of liberal states’ legal protection of minority languages. Many opponents of minority language protection have argued or assumed that legal intervention denies individuals the right to choose the majority language and the economic opportunities often attached to the dominant language. This Article argues that such arguments overlook another category of goods that are necessary to individual autonomy: relational resources. Individuals have an interest in maintaining their ancestral languages because doing so is essential to maintaining one’s relationship to one’s family and community. The relational interest cannot easily be compared with economic opportunities, because these two dimensions of autonomy are incommensurable. As a result, a liberal state should avoid forcing its citizens to choose between these incommensurable goods. By adopting policies that protect minority languages, while also ensuring individuals’ access to economic and political participation in the majority language, a liberal state can manage and balance the conflict between these important competing aspects of autonomy.

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Published Online: 2007-01-01

Citation Information: Law & Ethics of Human Rights, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 134–168, ISSN (Online) 1938-2545, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1938-2545.1004.

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