This is a three-part study and defense of the idea of basic human equality. (This is the idea that humans are basically one another's equals, as opposed to more derivative theories of the dimensions in which we ought to be equal or the particular implications that equality might have for public policy.) Part (1) of the paper examines the very idea of basic equality and it tries to elucidate it by considering what an opponent of basic human equality (e.g. a (...) philosophical racist) might hold. It explores the idea of there being no morally significant fundamental divisions among humans (of the kind that some people insist on as between humans and others animals). Part (2) considers whether basic human equality must be based on some descriptive similarity among us (naturalistic or metaphysical); it considers the positions of a number of thinkers who have denied this. Part (3) considers John Rawls's conception of basic equality in terms of range properties. (Being in Ohio is a range property; Columbus and Cincinnati are both equally in Ohio even though even though Columbus is in the center of the state, while Cincinnati is just over the river from Kentucky.) It explores the application of this Rawlsian idea to the descriptive properties that might be thought relevant to human equality. This three part paper is a rather technical philosophical exploration. And it is just a beginning; we need much more work on the idea of basic equality. Some of the energy that has gone into discussions of equality as a policy aim (e.g. in the Dworkin/Sen literature or in the literature surrounding Rawls's Difference Principle) needs to be devoted to this more fundamental conception. (shrink)
Many human rights charters contain prohibitions on inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees. Terms like "inhuman" and "degrading" are difficult to interpret, but they are certainly not meaningless. It is important to attend to attend to the meanings of the words themselves, as well as to the decisions that courts have made about particular practices. Reflection on the meanings of these highly-charged terms reveals important complexity, which we can unpack in a way that enables us to better focus (...) our debate about the proper treatment of prisoners and detainees. (shrink)
This paper asks how we should regard the laws and customs of armed conflict, and specifically the rule prohibiting the targeting of civilians. What view should we take of the moral character and significance of such rules? Some philosophers have suggested that they are best regarded as useful conventions. This view is sometimes motivated by a "deep moral critique" of the rule protecting civilians: Jeff McMahan believes for example that the existing rules protect some who ought to be liable to (...) attack (on account of their having voluntarily contributed to the injustice or aggression being resisted). He thinks we would be better off with a different principle of discrimination in warfare. But McMahan acknowledges that for the time being we must stick with the rules that we have. The present paper does five things: (1) it explores and takes further some of McMahan's insights about the importance of existing positive law in this area; (2) it argues that some of the features that philosophers find problematic with the rule offering blanket protection to all civilians have to do with administrability; (3) it raises some questions about whether the rule protecting civilians can really be regarded as a convention (and it argues that certainly it cannot be regarded as a "Lewis-convention" in a strict sense); (4) to the extent that the rule can be regarded as conventional, the paper argues that it remains a deadly serious moral rule, partly because of the circumstances of death and destruction in which it operates and which it tries to ameliorate, and partly on account of its fragility. The fifth point is the most important. (5) The rule protecting civilians does not operate in circumstances in which, apart form positive law, civilians like everyone would be liable to attack. The rule operates against a moral background in which all deliberate killing is to be regarded as murder; some deliberate killings (of combatants) are privileged in warfare; but the rule about civilians reflects the fact that this is a strictly limited privilege and that those who target civilians do not get the benefit of it. Changing our view of the default position in this way enables us to better understand the distinctive work that this rule does. (shrink)
This paper explores the application of the concept of "dignity" to groups such as nations, peoples, cultures, and communities. It suggests that while there are certain difficulties with attributing dignity to groups, and while the attribution of dignity to some groups can be invidious, and while the attribution of dignity to a group might in the end amount to nothng more than an emphasis on the dignity of its members, still the ide aof group dignity cannot be ruled out. It (...) cannot be ruled out on either logical grounds or on grounds of moral and political principle; indeed it may often be the best way of conveying important moral information about the value of groups to their members. (shrink)
What happened to the doctrine of natural right in the nineteenth century? We know that it flourished in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We know that something like it - the doctrine of human rights and new forms of social contract theory - flourished again in the second half of the twentieth century and continues to flourish in the twenty-first. In between there was a period of decline and hibernation - uneven, to be sure, and never complete - but a (...) period in which to invoke natural right was always to invite intellectual ridicule and accusations of political irresponsibility. Thus article asks: How far can the decline of natural right in the nineteenth century be attributed to the reaction against the revolution in France? How far it was the effect of independent streams of thought, like positivism and historicism? Why was radical thought so ambivalent about natural right throughout the nineteenth century, and why was socialist thought in particular inclined to turn its back on i? As a framework for thought, natural right suffered a radical decline in the social and political sciences. But things were not so clear in jurisprudence, and natural right lived on to a much riper old age in the writings of some prominent economists. So we have to ask: What is it about this theory that allowed it to survive in these environments, when so much of the rest of intellectual endeavor in the nineteenth century was toxic or inhospitable to it. Finally, I shall ask how far American thought represents an exception to all of this. Why and to what extent did the doctrine survive as a way of thinking in the United States, long after it had lost its credibility elsewhere. (shrink)
I argue against the idea (made popular by H.L.A. Hart) that the key to a legal system is its "rule of recognition." I argue that much of the work allegedly done by a rule of recognition is either done by a different kind of secondary rule (what Hart called "a rule of change") or it is not done at all (and doesn't have to be done). A rule of change tells us the procedures that must be followed and the substantive (...) conditions that must be satisfied if law is to be changed legislatively; and a judge "recognizes" changes simply by using this checklist. In common law, there is no clear rule of change (because we are profoundly ambivalent about judicial lawmaking). But we get by without one, and without a determinate rule of recognition that would tell us precisely how to infer rules from precedents. It is quite liberating, really, to abandon the idea of a rule of recognition. Apart from anything else, it relieves us from having to participate in endless debates about whether the US Constitution is (or contains) a rule of recognition for American law. The Constitution contains rules of change; that's what matters. (shrink)
Jeremy Waldron has been a challenging and influential voice in the moral, political and legal debates surrounding the response to terrorism since 9/11. His contributions have spanned the major controversies of the War on Terror - including the morality and legality of torture, whether security can be 'balanced' with liberty, and the relationship between public safety and individual rights. He has also tackled underlying questions essential to understanding the practical debates - including what terrorism is, and what a right to (...) security would entail. -/- This volume collects all Waldron's work on these issues, including six published essays and two previously unpublished essays. It also includes a new introduction in which Waldron presents an overview of his contribution, and looks at the problems currently facing the Obama administration and the UK Government in dealing with the legacy of the Bush White House. -/- The volume will be essential reading for all those engaged with contemporary politics, security law, and the continuing struggle for an ethical response to terrorism. (shrink)
Toleration has a rich tradition in Western political philosophy. It is, after all, one of the defining topics of political philosophy—historically pivotal in the development of modern liberalism, prominent in the writings of such canonical figures as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, and central to our understanding of the idea of a society in which individuals have the right to live their own lives by their own values, left alone by the state so long as they respect the similar (...) interests of others. -/- Toleration and Its Limits, the latest addition to the NOMOS series, explores the philosophical nuances of the concept of toleration and its scope in contemporary liberal democratic societies. Editors Melissa S. Williams and Jeremy Waldron carefully compiled essays that address the tradition's key historical figures; its role in the development and evolution of Western political theory; its relation to morality, liberalism, and identity; and its limits and dangers. -/- Contributors: Lawrence A. Alexander, Kathryn Abrams, Wendy Brown, Ingrid Creppell, Noah Feldman, Rainer Forst, David Heyd, Glyn Morgan, Glen Newey, Michael A. Rosenthal, Andrew Sabl, Steven D. Smith, and Alex Tuckness. (shrink)
Do property entitlements define the moral environment in which rights to well-being are defined, or do rights to well-being define the moral environment in which property entitlements are defined? Robert Nozick argued for the former alternative and he denied that any serious attempt had been made to state the latter alternative (what he called “the ‘reverse’ theory”). I actually think John Locke's approach to property can be seen as an instance of the “reverse” theory. And Nozick's can too, inasmuch as (...) it shares a number of features with the Lockean approach. But my paper is not intended as a criticism of Nozick; on the contrary, it acknowledges the integrity and the importance of his insistence that welfare, property, and justice be integrated into a single theory with clearly established priorities. (shrink)
“Terrorism”' is sometimes defined as a “form ofcoercion.” But there are important differences between ordinary coercion and terrorist intimidation. This paper explores some of those differences, particularly the relation between coercion, on the one hand, and terror and terrorization, on the other hand. The paper argues that while terrorism is not necessarily associated with terror in the literal sense, it does often seek to instill a mental state like terror in the populations that it targets. However, the point of instilling (...) this mental state is not necessarily coercive or intimidatory: one can try to instill terror as an act of punishment, or as an expressive or therapeutic act, or because one values the political consequences that might follow, or because one thinks terror is preferable, from an ethical point of view, to the inauthentic complacency that characterizes the targeted population at present. Though this paper asks questions about the definition of “terrorism,” these questions are not asked for their own sake. The quest for a canonical definition of “terrorism” is probably a waste of time. But asking questions which sound like questions of definition is sometimes a fruitful way of focusing our reflections on terrorism and organizing our response. (shrink)
This is a concise and profound book from one of the world's leading political and legal philosophers about a major theme, equality, and the proposition that humans are all one another's equals. Jeremy Waldron explores the implications of this fundamental tenet for law, politics, society and economy in the company of John Locke, whose work Waldron regards 'as well-worked-out a theory of basic equality as we have in the canon of political philosophy'. Throughout the text, which is based on the (...) Carlyle Lectures given in Oxford in 1999, Jeremy Waldron discusses contemporary approaches to equality and rival interpretations of Locke, and this dual agenda gives the whole an unusual degree of accessibility and intellectual excitement, of interest to philosophers, political theorists, lawyers and theologians around the world. (shrink)
This paper considers the proposal, associated with the CriticalLegal Studies movement (CLS) that the language of rights shouldbe replaced with the language of needs. It argues that thelanguage of needs is no less contestable, and has an even lesssecure relation to the idea of social duty than the idea ofrights. The paper rejects the notion that rights are usuallynegative claims on others – claims to their forbearance –and argues that rights can be understood perfectly well as adiscourse in which affirmative (...) claims are articulated. Moreover,rights are naturally associated with the idea of a moral system– a well-thought-through set of demands, in which potentialconflicts have been addressed and resolved. The concept ofneed does not have such systemic implications. (shrink)
Author Jeremy Waldron has thoroughly revised thirteen of his most recent essays in order to offer a comprehensive critique of the idea of the judicial review of legislation. He argues that a belief in rights is not the same as a commitment to a Bill of Rights. This book presents legislation by a representative assembly as a form of law making which is especially apt for a society whose members disagree with one another about fundamental issues of principle.
0n a lucid, concise volume, Jeremy Waldron defends the role of legislation, presenting it as an important mode of governance. Aristotle, Locke and Kant emerge as proponents of the dignity of legislation. Waldron's arguments are of obvious importance and topicality, especially in countries that are considering the introduction of a Bill of Rights. The Dignity of Legislation is original in conception, trenchantly argued and very clearly presented, and will be of interest to a wide range of scholars and thinkers.
This paper examines the role of political participation in a theory of rights. If political participation is a right, how does it stand in relation to other rights about which the participants may be making political decisions? Suppose a majority of citizens vote in favour of some limit on (say) the free exercise of religion. If their decision is allowed to stand, does that mean that we are giving more weight to the right to participate than to the right to (...) religious freedom? In this paper, I argue that talk of conflict (and relative weightings) of rights is inappropriate in a case like this. I argue that the special role of participation in a theory of rights is not a matter of its being given moral priority over other rights. Instead it's a matter of this being a right whose exercise seems peculiarly appropriate, from a rights-based point of view, in situations where reasonable right-bearers disagree about what (other) rights they have. (shrink)
Analyzes the historic correlation of injustice and moral judgments. Universalizability in analyzing moral judgments; Role of payment of money in the embodiment of communal remembrance; Symbolic reparation.
Can the right to private property be claimed as one of the `rights of mankind'? This is the central question of this comprehensive and critical examination of the subject of private property. Jeremy Waldron contrasts two types of arguments about rights: those based on historical entitlement, and those based on the importance of property to freedom. He provides a detailed discussion of the theories of property found in Locke's Second Treatise and Hegel's Philosophy of Right to illustrate this contrast. The (...) book contains original analyses of the concept of ownership, the ideas of rights, and the relation between property and equality. The author's overriding determination throughout is to follow through the arguments and values used to justify private ownership. He finds that the traditional arguments about property yield some surprisingly radical conclusions. (shrink)