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Summary Minority rights refers to rights that are granted to particular groups within a society, in particular Indigenous groups, religious groups, and ethnic groups.  These can either be rights that are granted to the group as a unit (collective rights) or to individuals insofar as they are members of the group (group-differentiated rights).  Philosophical attention to the issue of minority rights gained momentum in the 1990s, as part of a broader critique of color-blind theories of justice.  Advocates of minority rights claim that justice requires differential treatment for disadvantaged groups, be it in the form of affirmative action, exemptions from legal requirements, public support for cultural practices, or some form of political autonomy.
Key works Theories of minority rights can be roughly divided into those that work within the liberal tradition, seeking to show that the liberal commitment to equality and liberty requires the recognition of minority rights, and those that frame their defense of minority rights as part of an objection to liberalism.  The central figure working with the liberal tradition is Will Kymlicka, in particular his Kymlicka 1995 and Kymlicka 1989.  Key non-liberal works include Young 1990, Parekh 2000 and Tully 1995.  For an overarching objection to minority rights, see Barry 2001.  There are also a number of excellent edited collections focused on minority rights.  See in particular Sistare et al 2001, Shapiro & Kymlicka 1997 and Eisenberg & Spinner-Halev 2005
Introductions Good encyclopedia entries include Song forthcoming and Jones 2008.  Will Kymlicka also has a useful chapter on Multiculturalism in his 2002
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  1. Gabriel Andreescu (2002). Universal Thought, Eastern Facts: Scrutinizing National Minority Rights in Romania. In Will Kymlicka & Magda Opalski (eds.), Can Liberal Pluralism Be Exported?: Western Political Theory and Ethnic Relations in Eastern Europe. Oup Oxford.
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  2. A. S. M. Anwarullah Bhuiyan (2011). A Critical Response to Will Kymlicka´s View of Multiculturalism. Human Affairs 21 (2):129-139.
    The objective of this article is to consider how multiculturalism, minority rights, and nationbuilding have been defended by Will Kymlicka. For this purpose, I will first attempt to spell out the answers to the following questions: is it possible to defend minority rights in a liberal state? What is the problem regarding this defence of national minorities? Does anybody benefit from minority rights within a nationbuilding process? In order to find out the answer to these questions, I will first introduce (...)
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  3. Fernando Arlettaz (2013). Minority Rights in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: Conceptual Considerations. Jurisprudence 20 (3):901-922.
    The article discusses the rights of minorities in the system of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It establishes a conceptual distinction between universal rights, specific rights of minorities in general and specific rights of particular minorities. Universal rights correspond to all individuals (e,g,, “no one shall be subjected to torture”) or all groups of a certain class (e.g., “all families are entitled to protection”). Minority groups and their members are entitled to these rights in the same way (...)
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  4. Mira Bachvarova (2013). Multicultural Accommodation and the Ideal of Non-Domination. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (6):1-22.
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  5. He Baogang (2005). Minority Rights with Chinese Characteristics. In Will Kymlicka & Baogang He (eds.), Multiculturalism in Asia. Oup Oxford. 56--79.
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  6. Brian Barry (2001). Culture and Equality: An Egalitarian Critique of Multiculturalism. Polity Press.
  7. Brian Barry (1996). Book Review:Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights. Will Kymlicka. [REVIEW] Ethics 107 (1):153-.
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  8. Marita Brčić (2008). Kulturni pluralizam i pravednost u recepciji Willa Kymlicke. Filozofska Istrazivanja 28 (1):49-61.
    Shvaćajući kulturni pluralizam kao činjenicu suvremenog liberalno demokratskog društva, uočava se njegova problematičnost u odnosu na same liberalno-demokratske ideje. Demokracija polazi od prava većine, a liberalizam polazi od pojedinca kojemu su osigurana temeljna prava i dužnosti zanemarujući činjenicu njegova mogućeg pripadanja manjinskoj kulturi. Može li se odgovor na zahtjev kulturne različitosti pronaći isključivo u teoriji ljudskih prava ili je potrebno dopustiti postavljanje posebnih prava za pripadnike različitih manjinskih kultura? Je li takva posebna prava dovode u pitanje ideal jednakosti koji se (...)
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  9. David C. Bricker (1998). Autonomy and Culture: Will Kymlicka on Cultural Minority Rights. Southern Journal of Philosophy 36 (1):47-59.
  10. Chris Brink (2005). On Minorities. South African Journal of Philosophy 24 (3):153-175.
    In this paper I present a logical analysis of minorities and minority rights. I consider the question whether the classic social contract of a liberal democracy can be extended to include minorities without significant alteration to the accepted agreement between the individual and the state. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.24(3) 2005: 153-175.
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  11. Joseph H. Carens (2005). The Integration of Immigrants. Journal of Moral Philosophy 2 (1):29-46.
    This paper considers normative questions about the integration of legally resident immigrants into contemporary liberal democratic states. First, I ask to what extent immigrants should enjoy the same rights as citizens and on what terms they should have access to citizenship itself. I defend two general principles: (1) differential treatment requires justi.cation; (2) the longer immigrants have lived in the receiving society, the stronger their claim to equal rights and eventually to full citizenship. Second, I explore additional forms of economic, (...)
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  12. Joshua Castellino & Elvira Domnguez Redondo (2006). Minority Rights in Asia: A Comparative Legal Analysis. Oup Oxford.
    Minority rights law has been an important axis for the evolution of international law itself. While much has been written about minority rights regimes in Europe, there is very little information available with regards to Asian experiences. Countries in Asia, with their diverse populations, are struggling with constructing legal systems that will deliver on the promise of equal rights to all its citizens. This book evaluates these attempts in four Asian states: India, China, Malaysia and Singapore by examining the theory (...)
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  13. Emanuela Ceva & Federico Zuolo, A Matter of Respect. On the Relation Between the Majority and Minorities in a Democracy.
    The relations between the majority and minorities in a democracy have been standardly viewed as the main subject matter of toleration: the majority should refrain from using its dominant position to interfere with some minorities’ practices or beliefs despite its dislike or disapproval of such practices or beliefs. Can the idea of toleration provide us with the necessary resources to understand and respond to the problems arising out of majority/minorities relations in a democracy? We reply in the negative and make (...)
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  14. John R. Danley (1991). Liberalism, Aboriginal Rights, and Cultural Minorities. Philosophy and Public Affairs 20 (2):168-185.
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  15. Palma Dante (2014). The subject of minority rights new categories and a critique of will Kymlicka's group-differentiated rights. Ideas Y Valores 63 (155):191-217.
    Will Kymlicka ha sido considerado como compatibilizador de liberales y comunitaristas en cuanto a los derechos de las minorías. Su distinción entre derechos de grupo como protecciones externas y como restricciones internas buscó dar cuenta de las reivindicaciones minoritarias sin vulnerar el principio liberal de autonomía. En este artículo se buscan dos objetivos: primero, adoptar una perspectiva crítica, al afirmar que tal distinción soslaya el eje central de la discusión, esto es, la problemática de la titularidad del derecho, y, segundo, (...)
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  16. Zhidas Daskalovski (2002). Neutrality, Liberal Nation Building and Minority Cultural Rights. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 5 (3):27-50.
    This essay tackles the question of whether liberal political theory can remain neutral and grant minority cultural rights. It is argued that although consequentialist neutrality is impossible to implement, justificatory neutrality does allow certain benefits to be guaranteed to minorities as rights ? although not as many as most multiculturalists demand. Particular attention is paid to the demands of minority members of exemptions from general laws. The article gives examples of how and why certain exemptions or revisions of general laws (...)
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  17. Helder de Schutter (2005). Nations, Boundaries and Justice. Ethical Perspectives 12 (1):17-40.
    Will Kymlicka’s theory of minority rights has been most influential. Kymlicka distinguishes two types of ethnocultural minorities: national groups in a multinational state and ethnic groups in an immigrant society. This article focuses on the ‘multinational’ aspect of this paradigm. It investigates the extent to which Kymlicka’s justification of self-government rights for nations can offer a just guideline for the way in which we should accommodate cultural diversity generated by a plurality of national groups within one state. Should we regulate (...)
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  18. Panayote Dimitras & Nafsika Papanikolatos (2002). Reflections on Minority Rights Politics for East Central European Countries. In Will Kymlicka & Magda Opalski (eds.), Can Liberal Pluralism Be Exported?: Western Political Theory and Ethnic Relations in Eastern Europe. Oup Oxford.
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  19. Rohan Edrisinha (2005). Multination Federalism and Minority Rights in Sri Lanka. In Will Kymlicka & Baogang He (eds.), Multiculturalism in Asia. Oup Oxford. 244.
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  20. Anthony Egan (2012). Minorities Within Minorities: Equality, Rights and Diversity. Edited by Avigail Eisenberg & Jeff Spiner-Halevy . Pp. Xii, 390, Cambridge University Press, 2005, $43.67. [REVIEW] Heythrop Journal 53 (3):534-535.
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  21. Avigail Eisenberg & Jeff Spinner-Halev (eds.) (2005). Minorities Within Minorities: Equality, Rights and Diversity. cambridge university press.
  22. Anthony Ellis (2005). Minority Rights and the Preservation of Languages. Philosophy 80 (2):199-217.
    Do minority groups have a right to the preservation of their language? I argue that the rights of groups are always reducible to the rights of individuals. In that case, the question whether minorities have a right to the preservation of their language is a question of whether individuals have a right to it. I argue that, in the only relevant sense of ‘right’, they do not. They may have an interest in the preservation of their language, but, if so, (...)
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  23. A. Favell (1998). Applied Political Philosophy at the Rubicon: Will Kymlica's Multicultural Citizenship. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 1 (2):255-278.
    Will Kymlicka's Multicultural Citizenship represents an extraordinary attempt to put applied political philosophy to work in the empirical context of contemporary political debates about immigration and ethnic minorities in western society. This paper explores the methodological and interpretative difficulties of combining normative and empirical goals, in a critical discussion of the examples Kymlicka makes of multicultural issues in France, Britain and the US. It goes on to argue that these weaknesses lie in the Rawlsian influence in Kymlicka's work, and that (...)
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  24. Michael Freeman (2002). Past Wrongs and Liberal Justice. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 5 (2):201-220.
    Liberal theories of justice have often been unable to include the recognition of minority rights or of multiculturalism because of their emphasis on individuals. In contrast, recent theories of cultural recognition and minority rights have underestimated the tensions between group and individual rights. It is precisely the incorporation of past wrongs and their impact on present politics that can advance the liberal theory of justice for cultural minorities and their members.
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  25. David J. Galbreath (2013). Human Rights and Minority Rights in the European Union by Kirsten Shoraka: London and New York: Routledge, 2010 (Book Review). Human Rights Review 14 (2):159-160.
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  26. Shaun Gates (2010). Why Linguistic Territorialism in the UK Does Not Justify Differential Minority Language Rights. Ethics and Education 5 (1):3-13.
    Despite the declarations of international documents on minority language rights, provision is patchy for supporting minority languages in the UK, where since the 1980s governments have deliberately or unwittingly greatly raised the profile and comparative standing of English. The partial exception to this trend has been the treatment of indigenous/regional minority languages, stimulated by policies of devolution intended to revive or create a sense of national identity, and to redress perceived historic linguistic injustices. In a multicultural state or region these (...)
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  27. Robert E. Goodin (1997). Book Review:The Rights of Minority Cultures. Will Kymlicka. [REVIEW] Ethics 107 (2):356-.
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  28. Leslie Green (1998). Rights of Exit. Legal Theory 4 (2):165.
    Social groups claim authority to impose restrictions on their members that the state cannot. Churches, ethnic groups, minority nations, universities, social clubs, and families all regulate belief and behavior in ways that would be obviously unjust in the context of a state and its citizens. All religions impose doctrinal requirements; many also enforce sexist practices and customs. Some universities impose stringent speech and conduct codes on their students and faculty. Parochial schools discriminate in their hiring practices. Those who complain about (...)
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  29. Jennifer Greene (1998). Juha Raikka, Ed., Do We Need Minority Rights: Conceptual Issues Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 18 (1):42-47.
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  30. Fuat Gursozlu (2013). The Multicultural Mystique: The Liberal Case Against Diversity, by H. E. Baber. Teaching Philosophy 36 (3):300-303.
  31. Heta Aleksandra Gylling (2006). Avigail Eisenberg and Jeff Spinner-Halev, Eds., Minorities Within Minorities: Equality, Rights and Diversity Reviewed By. Philosophy in Review 26 (2):94-97.
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  32. Baogang He (2005). Minority Rights with Chinese Characteristics. In Will Kymlicka & Baogang He (eds.), Multiculturalism in Asia. Oup Oxford. 56--79.
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  33. Baogang He (2004). Confucianism Versus Liberalism Over Minority Rights: A Critical Response to Will Kymlicka. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 31 (1):103–123.
  34. Baogang He (2003). Minority Rights : A Confucian Critique of Kymlicka's Theory of Nonassimilation. In Kim Chong Chong, Sor-Hoon Tan & C. L. Ten (eds.), The Moral Circle and the Self: Chinese and Western Approaches. Open Court.
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  35. Joseph Heath (1998). Culture: Choice or Circumstance? Constellations 5 (2):183-200.
    In this paper, I would like to discuss two recent attempts to incorporate groupdifferentiated rights and entitlements into a broadly liberal conception of distributive justice. The first is John Roemer’s “pragmatic theory of responsibility,” and the second is Will Kymlicka’s defense of minority rights in “multinational” states.1 Both arguments try to show that egalitarianism, far from requiring a “color-blind” system of institutions and laws that is insensitive to ethnic, linguistic or subcultural differences, may in fact mandate special types of rights, (...)
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  36. Burke Hendrix (2008). Authenticity and Cultural Rights. Journal of Moral Philosophy 5 (2):181-203.
    Should states extend customized political protections to 'minority nations' or 'minority cultures'? Part of the answer depends on whether the identities at stake are merely political artifacts created or exploited by 'ethnic entrepreneurs', or whether they are 'authentic' expression of an ongoing collective life. This essay argues that the real character of groups is persistently difficult to recognize, and that 'authenticity' is a problematic notion even in the abstract. Given these uncertainties, the essay argues that states should generally treat only (...)
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  37. Cindy L. Holder (2001). Rethinking Groups: Groups, Group Membership and Group Rights. Dissertation, The University of Arizona
    Is there something special about group rights? Many would say "yes". For some, only certain kinds of groups---ones that are oppressed, or play a special role in well-being---may have rights. For others, the kind of group is not as important as the group's culture and internal structure. At the very least, many argue, group rights ought to be more restricted than individualistic ones. For these reasons, arguing the merits of a group right is often thought to require a theory of (...)
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  38. Bonnie Honig (2011). "[Un]Dazzled by the Ideal?": Tully's Politics and Humanism in Tragic Perspective. Political Theory 39 (1):138-144.
  39. Peter Jones, Group Rights. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  40. Suzy Killmister (forthcoming). Why Group Membership Matters; A Critical Typology. Ethnicities.
    The question of why group-differentiated rights might be a requirement of justice has been a central focus of identity politics in recent decades. I attempt to bring some clarity to this discussion by proposing a typology to track the various ways in which individuals can be harmed or benefited as a consequence of their membership in social groups. It is the well-being of individuals that group-differentiated rights should be understood as protecting, and so clarity on the relationship between group membership (...)
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  41. Suzy Killmister (2011). Group-Differentiated Rights and the Problem of Membership. Social Theory and Practice 37 (2):227-255.
    Justifications of group-differentiated rights commonly overlook a crucial practical consideration: if rights are to be allocated on the basis of group membership, how should we determine which individuals belong to which group? Assuming that social identities are fixed and transparent runs the risk of creating further injustices, whilst acknowledging that social groups are porous and heterogeneous runs the risk of rendering group-differentiated rights impracticable. In this paper, I develop a schema for determining group membership which avoids both horns of this (...)
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  42. Elizabeth Kingdom (1997). Right Without Might: Liberal Minority Politics. Res Publica 3 (1):115-119.
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  43. Carl Knight (2004). Liberal Multiculturalism Reconsidered. POLITICS 24 (3):189-97.
    This article starts by setting out the evaluative criteria provided by Will Kymlicka's liberal account of individual freedom and equality. Kymlicka's theory of cultural minority rights is then analysed using these criteria and found to be defective in two respects. First, his assignment of different rights to national and ethnic groups is shown to be inegalitarian with regard to generations after the first. Second, his recommendation of strong cultural protections is shown in some circumstances to undermine freedom and equality. Towards (...)
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  44. Guido Koch (2005). Gruppen, Rechte, Gerechtigkeit. Die Moralische Begründung der Rechte Von Minderheiten (Groups, Rights, Justice. The Moral Justification of the Rights of Minorities). [REVIEW] Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (4):477-480.
  45. William Korey (1994). Minority Rights After Helsinki. Ethics and International Affairs 8 (1):119–139.
    Korey addresses the increased social dislocation of minority groups that accompanied freedom in post-totalitarian Europe. He argues that glasnost and the revolutions of 1989 legitimized new brands of nationalism that included threads of anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia.
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  46. Chandran Kukathas (1992). The Rights of Minority Cultures. Political Theory 20:140-147.
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  47. Erol Kuyurtar (2007). Are Cultural Group Rights Against Individual Rights? The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 3:51-59.
    This paper focuses on the nature of cultural group rights in relation to individual rights. The recent liberal acceptance that minority cultures should have a collective power over their cultural matters has been challenged by other liberals on the grounds that cultural rights as group rights cannot be reconciled with the basic moral and political principles of liberalism which are derived from individual liberties and rights. Through tackling some liberal arguments against group rights, we reject the view that regards group (...)
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  48. to Will Kymlicka (2004). Confucianism Versus Liberalism Over Minority Rights: A Critical Response. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 31:103-123.
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  49. Will Kymlicka (2010). Minority Rights in Political Philosophy and International Law. In Samantha Besson & John Tasioulas (eds.), The Philosophy of International Law. Oxford University Press. 377--383.
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  50. Will Kymlicka (2009). Categorizing Groups, Categorizing States: Theorizing Minority Rights in a World of Deep Diversity. Ethics and International Affairs 23 (4):371-388.
    Since 1989 we have witnessed a proliferation of efforts to develop international norms of the rights of ethnocultural minorities, such as the UN's 1992 Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, the Council of Europe's 1995 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, and the Organization of American States' 1997 draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This activity at the level of international law is reflected in a comparable explosion (...)
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