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Moral Coherence in a Specified Account of Rights: Interests, Values, and Decisive Practical Reasons

Date:
Thursday 9th June 2016

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Date: Thursday 9th June 2016 Time: 4-5pm Location: F4, St Mary's University, Twickenham There is much philosophical literature on the right way to resolve deep conflicts between incompatible values. This problem becomes particularly fraught when it concerns conflicts between our legal and moral rights. My paper contributes to this debate by asserting two foundational claims: firstly, that classical interest based accounts of rights fail to generate clear normative implications. Namely, they fail to generate practical reasons which are required to both identify and justify the relevant duty bearers and the specific interpersonal burdens (ie the content of rights) they are responsible for. Secondly, they also fail to account for the way our rights coexist with one another in our shared moral space, leading us directly into the intractable legal, moral, and political difficulties that follow from the perception of incommensurability in rights conflicts. I argue that a value based, deontological justification for rights can solve the first issue, by generating interpersonal practical reasons which identify and justify both duty bearers and their burdens as inseparable elements of making a rights claim. My main argument goes further, however, and suggests that once we accept that our rights claims are actually justified by reference to a particular conception of equality, they will then generate decisive practical reasons. This provides the conceptual tools necessary to solve the second issue, ie a clear way to link the moral justification for the foundation of rights with a philosophical methodology for the resolution of their conflicts—a stringent test of the plausibility of any rights theory.

For more information please contact Dr Rebecca Smith by emailing rebecca.smith@stmarys.ac.uk.

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Date:
Thursday 9th June 2016

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For more information about this event please email conferences@stmarys.ac.uk or call 020 8240 8219.

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