Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


To what extent can liberal theory account for community without compromising its core value, that of autonomy? And, by extension, can a liberal framework of rights properly integrate claims to the promotion of community, say a linguistic community? Part of the answer rests on an interpretation of liberalism which would accommodate community and valid claims to communal goods such as language. Various attempts to offer such an interpretation, however, are constrained by normative claims about the primacy of autonomy, or yet are founded on shaky propositions about the moral status of community. These difficulties are apparent in rights-discourse, namely in debates concerning collective rights. This thesis examines how this problem manifests itself in issues concerning language rights in Quebec, and proposes elements of a conceptual approach that could account for strong language rights such as Bill 101. It involves construing identity as a substantive value on which such communal rights can be founded, and from which we can manage the inevitable tension with more traditional individual rights based on the value of autonomy.



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