Language as a Global Public Good

Res Publica 20 (4):377-394 (2014)
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Language use is a public good. Those using a common language receive benefits that are non-excludable and non-rival. And as more people speak the same language, the greater these benefits are. Sometimes individuals make a conscious decision to learn a language other than their native language in order to receive these benefits, and thereby incur costs. This paper is an attempt to determine how we should share the costs among all beneficiaries. I argue against Van Parijs’s proposal for this, and instead argue that an approach found in the work of Gauthier is preferable. A general lesson to be drawn from this paper is that the correct principle for distributing the costs of public goods will depend on whether we think the good in question is required by justice or not. Where Van Parijs went wrong, I claim, was in thinking that a cross-border common language is required by justice



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Isaac Taylor
Stockholm University

Citations of this work

Political Obligations and Public Goods.Isaac Taylor - 2021 - Res Publica 27 (4):559-575.

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References found in this work

Political Liberalism.John Rawls - 1993 - Columbia University Press.
The law of peoples.John Rawls - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Edited by John Rawls.
Morals by agreement.David P. Gauthier - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Law of Peoples.John Rawls - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 51 (203):246-253.
The Law of Peoples.John Rawls - 1993 - Critical Inquiry 20 (1):36-68.

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