In Paul Bloomfield (ed.), Morality and Self-Interest. Oxford University Press (2008)
One of the most difficult and widely discussed questions in recent moral theory is that of the status of human rights—the rights of individuals not to be violated, sacrificed, or used in certain ways, even in the service of valuable ends, either by other individuals or by governments and intermediate institutions. The reason for claiming such things as rights—apart from the natural tendency for rhetoric to escalate—is that they have some claim to be given priority over other values, a claim to be taken care of first, for everyone, even if this cannot be justified by balancing their utility against other components of the general good or general welfare. There is probably no harm in attaching the term “right” to the minima that ought thus to be guaranteed to everyone—provided it does not produce confusion with negative rights, which are likewise equally to be accorded to everyone, and provided it does not beg any questions about the relative priorities between positive and negative rights, should they conflict.
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