Defending the Right To Do Wrong

Law and Philosophy 31 (3):343-365 (2012)
Abstract
Are there moral rights to do moral wrong? A right to do wrong is a right that others not interfere with the right-holder’s wrongdoing. It is a right against enforcement of duty, that is a right that others not interfere with one’s violation of one’s own obligations. The strongest reason for moral rights to do moral wrong is grounded in the value of personal autonomy. Having a measure of protected choice (that is a right) to do wrong is a condition for an autonomous life and for autonomous moral self-constitution. This view has its critics. Responding to these objections reveals that none refute the coherence of the concept of a ‘moral right to do moral wrong’. At most, some objections successfully challenge the weight and frequency of the personal autonomy reasons for such rights. Autonomy-based moral rights to do moral wrong are therefore conceptually possible as well as, at least on occasion, actual
Keywords rights  rights theory  right to do wrong  moral rights  ethics  autonomy  moral philosophy  normative ethics
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