The twentieth century saw a vigorous debate over the nature of rights. Will theorists argued that the function of rights is to allocate domains of freedom. Interest theorists portrayed rights as defenders of well-being. Each side declared its conceptual analysis to be closer to an ordinary understanding of what rights there are, and to an ordinary understand- ing of what rights do for rightholders. Neither side could win a decisive victory, and the debate ended in a standoff.
Rights dominate most modern understandings of what actions are proper and which institutions are just. Rights structure the forms of our governments, the contents of our laws, and the shape of morality as we perceive it. To accept a set of rights is to approve a distribution of freedom and authority, and so to endorse a certain view of what may, must, and must not be done.
In John Rawls’s The Law of Peoples we find unfamiliar concepts, surprising pronouncements, and what appear from a familiar Rawlsian perspective to be elementary errors in reasoning.1 Even Rawls’s most sensitive and sympathetic interpreters have registered unusually deep misgivings about the book.2 Most perplexing of all is the general character of the view that Rawls sets out to justify. For in this book Rawls, the twentieth century’s leading liberal egalitarian, advances a theory which shows no direct concern for individuals and (...) requires no narrowing of global material inequality. (shrink)
justice as fairness envisions a society of free citizens holding equal basic rights cooperating within an egalitarian economic system. His account of political liberalism addresses the legitimate use of political power in a democracy, aiming to show how enduring unity may be achieved despite the diversity of worldviews that free institutions allow. His writings on the law of peoples extend these theories to liberal foreign policy, with the goal of imagining how a peaceful and tolerant international order might be possible.
All of these claims for reparations have mobilized popular support, and all share a degree of intuitive plausibility. The challenge to the theorist is to judge whether and which of such demands are grounded in sound principles of political normativity, so as to be able to select out the valid claims and to measure how the urgency of these claims compares with other demands on the public agenda. The most basic question for those considering the justiﬁcations of reparations is how (...) to orient their theories within the space of reasons. Do valid claims for reparation rest at the deepest level on reasons we have for redressing a past injustice? Or do they rather rest on reasons we have to improve our current relations so that we can get along better in the future? Are valid reparative demands backward- or forward-looking? (shrink)
What morality requires of us in a world of poverty and inequality depends both on what our duties are in the abstract, and on what we can do to help. T.M. Scanlon's contractualism addresses the first question. I suggest that contractualism isolates the moral factors that frame our deliberations about the extent of our obligations in situations of need. To this extent, contractualism clarifies our common-sense understanding of our duties to distant others. The second, empirical question then becomes vital. What (...) we as individuals need to know is how to fulfil our duties to the distant poor. Moral theorists tend to base their prescriptions on simple assumptions about how the rich can help the poor. Yet a survey of the empirical literature shows how urgently we need more information on this topic before we can know what contractualist morality — or any plausible morality — requires of us. Key Words: Scanlon • contractualism • global justice • global poverty • aid effectiveness. (shrink)
Concerns over aid effectiveness have led to calls for greater accountability in international development aid. This article examines the state of accountability within and between international development agencies: aid NGOs, international financial institutions, and government aid ministries.
In GIVING WELL: THE ETHICS OF PHILANTHROPY, an accomplished trio of editors bring together an international group of distinguished philosophers, social scientists, lawyers and practitioners to identify and address the most urgent moral questions arising today in the practice of philanthropy.
A Northern Ireland politician declared not long ago that the British people had a right not to believe the IRA’s latest statement on disarmament. Therefore, he said, the British government had no right to allow the IRA further representation at the talks. Rights assertions like these are quite common in everyday talk, even if pronouncements linking epistemic and legal rights are less so.
Beyond Blood Oil expands on the themes and proposals laid out in Leif Wenar’s previous book and engages a distinguished group of scholars to explore philosophical arguments, assessing the prospects of his practical policy proposal. The book addresses how oil resources can undermine democracy and discusses moral obligations of those who consume oil.
This book traces the life's work of a man now widely regarded as one of the greatest economists, political philosophers and social theorists of the century. The result is the most alive and accessible introduction to Hayek to date.
Leif Wenar examines the impact on takings scholarship of the redefinition of "property" early in the twentieth century. He argues that the Hohfeldian characterization of property as rights (instead of as tangible things) forced major scholars such as Michelman, Sax, and Epstein into extreme interpretations of the Takings Clause. This extremism is unnecessary, however, since the original objections to the idea that "property is things" are mistaken.
What morality requires of us in a world of poverty and inequality depends both on what our duties are in the abstract, and on what we can do to help. T.M. Scanlon’s contractualism addresses the first question. I suggest that contractualism isolates the moral factors that frame our deliberations about the extent of our obligations in situations of need. To this extent, contractualism clarifies our common-sense understanding of our duties to distant others. The second, empirical question then becomes vital. What (...) we as individuals need to know is how to fulfil our duties to the distant poor. Moral theorists tend to base their prescriptions on simple assumptions about how the rich can help the poor. Yet a survey of the empirical literature shows how urgently we need more information on this topic before we can know what contractualist morality — or any plausible morality — requires of us. (shrink)
“There is nothing which so generally strikes the imagination, and engages the affections of mankind, as the right of property; or that sole and despotic dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in total exclusion of the right of any other individual in the universe.” (Blackstone, p.