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Do Rights Exist by Convention or by Nature?

Title:

Do Rights Exist by Convention or by Nature?

Nieswandt, Katharina (2016) Do Rights Exist by Convention or by Nature? Topoi, 35 (1). pp. 313-325. ISSN 0167-7411

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11245-015-9311-x

Abstract

I argue that all rights exist by convention. According to my definition, a right exists by convention just in case its justification appeals to the rules of a socially shared pattern of acting. I show that (i) our usual justifications for rights are circular, that (ii) a right fulfills my criterion if all possible justifications for it are circular, and that (iii) all existing philosophical justifications for rights are circular or fail. We find three non-circular alternatives in the literature, viz. justifications of rights by consequences, by autonomy or by divine commands. I show that all three alternatives fail, and I conclude that all rights exist by convention. This ontological result has a surprising and beneficial consequence. A common argument against conventionalism is that it implies cultural relativism. I finish by showing that the suggested conventionalism is incompatible with cultural relativism.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Philosophy
Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Authors:Nieswandt, Katharina
Journal or Publication:Topoi
Date:2016
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):10.1007/s11245-015-9311-x
ID Code:982121
Deposited By: KATHARINA NIESWANDT
Deposited On:18 Jan 2017 17:48
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:54
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