Rights, Duties and the Separateness of Persons

Philosophical Papers 38 (1):73-91 (2011)
Let the fact of the separateness of persons be that we are separate individuals, each with his or her own life to lead. This is to be distinguished from the doctrine of the separateness of persons: the claim that the fact of our separateness is especially deep and important, morally speaking. In this paper, I argue that we ought to reject this doctrine. I focus most of my attention on the suggestion that the separateness of persons best explains the importance we attach to moral rights. After criticizing Nozick's use of the doctrine, I formulate an alternative account of the significance of rights. I then show how proponents of the doctrine of separateness have no principled way of distinguishing between egoism and moral libertarianism. I suggest that rejecting the doctrine of our separateness for the reasons I propose ensures that we need have no fear of having to embrace consequentialism as a result
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