Double-counting inequalities

Politics, Philosophy and Economics 2 (1):129-134 (2003)
Abstract
Philippe Van Parijs has argued that, in a globalizing economy, acquiring a second language, additional to one's native language, is more necessary for some persons than others — and that this asymmetric bilingualism is a form of injustice which should be rectified by a more equitable global sharing of the costs of second-language acquisition. This article responds by suggesting that (1) since native languages have geographic locations, and (2) since locations with less globally useful native languages thereby sustain lowered living costs, then (3) the costs which persons incur, in acquiring a second, more globally useful language, may already be offset by the lower costs they incur by virtue of their living in a location with a less globally useful native language. Hence, theories of justice (such as Van Parijs's) that require the egalitarian redistribution of locational values would impose, rather than remedy, an injustice by redistributing second-language-acquisition costs. Key Words: distributive justice • global redistribution • linguistic assets • locational values • Philippe Van Parijs.
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