Rights Thinking

Simpson, Evan (1997) Rights Thinking. Philosophy: The Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, 72 (279). pp. 29-58. ISSN 1469-817X

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Abstract

Judgments about right are normally circumscribed and balanced by other considerations but it is possible to imagine 'rights think- ing' as occurring without any such admixture. This pure rights thinking is characterized by several distinctive features. First, resentment, respect, and other passions of rectitude overrule sym- pathetic feelings of concern and compassion, love and affection. One responds simply as justice demands, never allowing extrane- ous factors to interfere with satisfaction of this moral ideal. Second, when claims of rights collide with personal attachments or calculations of benefit, the right systematically prevails. For exam- ple, rights thinking resists assertions presented to justify breaking promises to friends for their supposed greater good. Third, although rights entail obligations to their holders, responsibilities to others extend no further than these entailments within pure rights thinking. No general obligation of benevolence is recog- nized, for example, since no one in particular has a right to one's benevolence. Hence, fourth, as well as entailing moral protections for their holders and defining centres of independent agency, the perception of rights also promotes one's fundamental separateness from others.

Item Type: Article
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1715
Item ID: 1715
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Philosophy
Date: January 1997
Date Type: Publication
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