Human Rights and Human Well-Being

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Nov 1, 2010 - Philosophy - 432 pages
In the last half of the twentieth century, legalized segregation ended in the southern United States, apartheid ended in South Africa, women in many parts of the world came to be recognized as having equal rights with men, persons with disabilities came to be recognized as having rights to develop and exercise their human capabilities, colonial peoples' rights of self-determination were recognized, and rights of gays and lesbians have begun to be recognized. It is hard not to see these developments as examples of real moral progress. But what is moral progress? In this book, William Talbott offers a surprising answer to that question. He proposes a consequentialist meta-theoretical principle of moral and legal progress, the "main principle", to explain why these changes are examples of moral and legal progress. On Talbott's account, improvements to our moral or legal practices are changes that, when evaluated as a practice, contribute to equitably promoting well-being. Talbott uses the main principle to explain why almost all the substantive moral norms and principles used in moral or legal reasoning have exceptions and why it is almost inevitable that, no matter how much we improve them, there will always be more exceptions. This explanation enables Talbott to propose a new, non-skeptical understanding of what has been called the "naturalistic fallacy". Talbott uses the main principle to complete the project begun in his 2005 book of identifying the human rights that should be universal-that is, legally guaranteed in all human societies. Talbott identifies a list of fourteen robust, inalienable human rights. Talbott contrasts his consequentialist (though not utilitarian) account with many of the most influential nonconsequentialist accounts of morality and justice in the philosophical literature, including those of Ronald Dworkin, Jurgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, Phillip Pettit, John Rawls, T.M. Scanlon, Amartya Sen, Judith Thomson.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

1 The Consequentialist Project for Human Rights
3
2 Exceptions to Libertarian Natural Rights
28
3 The Main Principle
48
4 What Is WellBeing? What Is Equity?
71
5 The Two Deepest Mysteries in Moral Philosophy
103
6 Security Rights
130
7 Epistemological Foundations for Human Rights
157
8 The Millian Epistemological Argument for Autonomy Rights
172
11 Equity Rights
259
12 The Most Reliable Judgment Standard for Soft Legal Paternalism
276
13 Liberty Rights and Privacy Rights
308
14 Clarifications and Responses to Objections
326
15 Conclusion
349
Notes
353
References
389
Index
401

9 Property Rights Contract Rights and Other Economic Rights
199
10 Democratic Rights
234

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

William J. Talbott is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington, where he has been teaching since 1989. He has published articles in moral and political philosophy, especially the philosophy of human rights, philosophy of law, epistemology, and rational choice theory. This is the second of two volumes on human rights. The first was Which Rights Should Be Universal? (OUP, 2005).

Bibliographic information