Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (1):57-69 (2003)
Valadez’ book is an excellent investigation of the question of group rights. Nonetheless, there are some serious objections to group rights that he does not investigate. Groups contain hierarchies of power: thus giving legal privileges to a group is usually tantamount to giving more power to those already in power within the group. Groups have unclear and changing boundaries of membership; group rights often reify the current definition of a group and militate against change. Finally, there are ‘dispersed groups’ that may be very important in people’s identity, but that do not figure in the usual discussions of group ethno-cultural rights; the group of women, groups defined by sexual orientation, profession or the love of something. Such groups are unlikely to win legal privileges but then, giving legal privileges to the ethno-cultural groups makes them more salient by contrast with the ‘dispersed groups’. I investigate these points, using a variety of examples.
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