Philosophical Justifications for Indigenous Rights

Paul Patton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Indigenous rights are legal and extra-legal rights attributed to Indigenous peoples who, as a consequence of colonization or other circumstances, live under the authority of sovereign states not instituted by them. From a philosophical perspective, the nature and basis of Indigenous rights remain a matter of dispute: are they moral rights, political rights or simply positive rights enshrined or destined to be enshrined in law? One response is to suggest that the political liberalism outlined in John Rawls's later political philosophy contains resources for defending distinctive rights for Indigenous peoples. The predominant language of modern constitutionalism presupposes a culturally homogeneous people in a way that makes cultural differences irrelevant. The theorists of modern constitutionalism present it as a universal language that specifies the rules necessary for democratic politics. The chapter discusses Rawls's political liberalism for normative resources that provide justification for attributing distinctive rights to Indigenous peoples within liberal democratic communities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
EditorsCorinne Lennox , Damien Short
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780203119235
ISBN (Print)9781857436419
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks


  • Indigenous peoples
  • colonization
  • legal rights


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