International workshop: Language Ethics as a Field of Inquiry

The workshop “Language Ethics as a Field of Inquiry” is an innovative and a first-of-its-kind attempt to identify, conceptualise and explore the social and political ethics of human language as a distinct field of intellectual inquiry, similarly to other distinct domains of ethics such as the ethics of war, bioethics, business ethics and environmental ethics.

The workshop brings together diverse scholarly perspectives from leading experts in politics, philosophy, linguistics, history and economics, in order to explore language ethics in a strong transdisciplinary environment. It therefore sets out to identify the ways in which the intrinsic plurality and complexity of this emerging field of inquiry may be approached, defined and studied in a systematic and dedicated manner.

Convenors: Daniel Weinstock and Yael Peled

Participation and registration:

Registration is free of charge but is essential, since the number of available places is limited. To register, please send a message expressing your interest to For directions and map of the workshop venue see here.

November 11-12, 2011
ITHQ (3535 St. Denis), Montreal

Programme download poster here

Friday November 11

9:00 Greetings and Opening Remarks

Session I: Language Ethics – Definitions, Contexts and Approaches

  • 9:30 Dan Avnon (Political Science, Hebrew University) What is (or ‘are’) Language Ethics?
  • 10:15 Arash Abizadeh (Political Science, McGill) Words versus the Public Thing: Verbal Threats to the Rousseauist Republic

11:00 Break

  • 11:15 Luisa Maffi (Terralingua) Earth of Languages, Languages of the Earth: Towards a Biocultural Ethics for the World’s Languages

12.00 Lunch

Session II: The Normative Theorising of Language Policy

  • 13:00 Idil Boran (Philosophy, York) Language, Institutions and Political Theory
  • 13:45 Jacob T. Levy (Political Science, McGill) The Language of Manners and the Manners of Language

14:30 Break

Session III: Linguistic Justice

  • 15:00 Alan Patten (Political Science, Princeton) Language Preservation, Fairness and Language Rights
  • 15:45 Helder de Schutter (Political and Social Theory, Leuven) Intralinguistic Justice

Saturday November 12

Session IV: Global Linguistic Justice

  • 9:30 Suzanne Romaine (English, Oxford) Towards Sustainable and Equitable Human Development: Why Language Matters
  • 10:15 Daniel Weinstock (Philosophy, Montreal) Is Language Death Necessarily Unjust? Three Arguments

11:00 Break

  • 11:15 Tom Ricento (Education, Calgary) Language Policy, Political Theory and English as a ‘Global’ Language

12:00 Lunch

Session V: The Economics of Linguistic Diversity

  • 13:00 David Robichaud (Philosophy, Ottawa) Language Rights and the Costs of Language Diversity
  • 13:45 Francois Grin (Economics, Geneva) Is “Diversity” an Operational Concept for Language Policy?

14:30 Break

Session VI: Language Ethics as a Field of Inquiry

15:00 General Discussion
16:30 Conclusion