Utilitarianism and Human Rights

INTRODUCTION We look to rights for protection. The hope of advocates of “human rights” has been that certain protections might be accorded to allof humanity. Even in a world only a minority of whose inhabitants live under liberal democratic regimes, the hope is, certain standards accepted in the liberal democracies will gain universal recognition and respect. These include liberty of persons as opposed to enslavement, freedom from cruelty, freedom from arbitrary execution, from arbitrary imprisonment, and from arbitrary deprivation of property or livelihood, freedom of religion, and freedom of inquiry and expression. Philosophers, of course, concern themselves with the theory of rights, and that is partly because of the ways questions of rights bear on fundamental normative theory. By far the most highly developed general normative theory has been utilitarianism. Now many opponents of utilitarianism argue that considerations of rights discredit utilitarianism, that utilitarianism yields conclusions about rights that we would normally regard as faulty, and that moreover, the reasons for regarding those conclusions as faulty turn out, upon examination, to be stronger than the reasons forregarding utilitarianism as valid. A valid theory cannot have faulty conclusions, and so thinkingabout rights shows utilitarianism not to be a valid normative theory. Jeremy Bentham, the founder of the utilitarian movement in nineteenth century England, accepted the incompatibility of utilitarianism and “the rights of man, ” and rejected talkof the latter as “anarchical fallacies”. His great successor John Stuart Mill, however, argued that a perceptive and far–sighted utilitarianism supports strong rights both of democratic participation and of individual freedom of action
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0265052500003897
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,411
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
João Cardoso Rosas (2008). Human Rights. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 11:93-100.
Joseph Raz (2010). Human Rights Without Foundations. In J. Tasioulas & S. Besson (eds.), The Philosphy of International Law. Oxford University Press.
Charles Jones (2013). The Human Right to Subsistence. Journal of Applied Philosophy 30 (1):57-72.
Louis Henkin (1998). Religion, Religions, and Human Rights. Journal of Religious Ethics 26 (2):229-239.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

60 ( #81,253 of 1,924,716 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #187,017 of 1,924,716 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.