An Introduction to Rights (Cambridge Introductions to by William A. Edmundson

By William A. Edmundson

This obtainable advent to the background, good judgment, ethical implications, and political traits of the concept that of rights is equipped chronologically. protecting such vital occasions because the French Revolution, it's well-suited as an introductory-level, undergraduate textual content in such classes as political philosophy, ethical philosophy, and ethics. the amount can be utilized in classes on political conception in departments of political technological know-how and govt, and in classes on felony conception in legislation colleges.

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Additional resources for An Introduction to Rights (Cambridge Introductions to Philosophy and Law)

Sample text

Indeed He does, even though they are not mentioned in so many words in Scripture. But if what is right to do is simply what is expedient to do, that seems to mean that there are no rights sturdy enough to oppose the claims of utility. God in fact appears to be ready to impose sanctions on anyone who chooses to respect another’s right when greater utility would be gained by ignoring it: There are many occasions, in which the hand of the assassin would be very useful. The present possessor of some great estate employs his influence and fortune, to annoy, corrupt, or oppress, all about him.

Locke’s state of nature is different. ” Each has a natural right to preserve himself but not a right to harm others in order to do so (except in self-defense against a violent attacker). Each has a natural right to private property, moreover, which must be respected by others. Although God originally gave the earth to humankind in common, the “law of nature” permits each, without needing another’s consent, to appropriate such lands, crops, herds, and game as he sees fit, by the simple expedient of “mixing labour” with it.

The sovereign is incapable of injustice, in Hobbes’s view; although the sovereign may be answerable to God, she is not answerable to her subjects. Hobbes’s theory exasperates many because it begins with assumptions that have an undeniable appeal: a bracing unsentimentality about human nature, a recognition of natural rights belonging to each and all, and a determination to understand government as resting upon a compact among the governed. Yet Hobbes makes these assumptions yield conclusions that seem to legitimate the severest authoritarianism.

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