13blackboardnotesNozickSen2007

13blackboardnotesNozickSen2007 - 1 BLAC KBOARD N OTES ON...

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1 BLACKBOARD NOTES ON NOZICK VERSUS SEN PHILOSOPHY 13 FALL, 2007 ROBERT NOZICK ON RIGHTS AS SIDE CONSTRAINTS. Moral rights should be conceived as side constraints on actions not as goals to be promoted. We ought always to respect rights (that is, refrain from violating them ourselves), not act to maximize their overall fulfillment. On the side constraint view, a right should enter the determination of what one morally ought to do in this way: Of the acts one could do at a given time, eliminate from consideration the acts that would violate anyone’s rights. These are ineligible for choice. You may choose any remaining act. If instead we conceive of rights as goals to be promoted, we end up in the position Nozick calls “utilitarianism of rights.” This would be to misconceive the nature of rights and the role they should play in the determination of what we morally ought to do. AMARTYA SEN ON RIGHTS. Sections 1 and 2 of this essay present counterexamples against “welfarist consequentialism” and “constraint-based deontology.” The latter is Nozick’s view: moral rights should be interpreted only as side constraints on what one may legitimately choose to do. Welfarist consequentialism is act consequentialism plus the further claim that nothing affects the value of consequences except (a) the sum total of utility or welfare they contain and (b) the distribution of utility or welfare across persons. Act consequentialism is the view that one morally ought always to do an act whose outcome is no worse than the outcome that would result from anything else one might instead have done. By “utility” or alternatively “welfare” Sen means to refer to good interpreted either as desire satisfaction or pleasure and the absence of pain. The welfarist consequentialist then holds that one morally ought always to do an act whose consequences in terms of utility (how much there is and perhaps how it is spread across persons) are no worse than the utility consequences of any other act one might have done instead. Welfarist consequentialism is a family of views that includes “Maximize aggregate utility!,” “Maximin utility (make the utility level of the worst off person as high as possible)!,” “Equalize utility!,” and “Prioritize utility (Maximize a function of utility that values more utility overall rather than less and also gives extra weight to a utility gain for a person, the worse off she would be otherwise)!.” Against constraint-based deontology, Sen urges that moral rights should be regarded, at least to some extent, as goals to be promoted and not merely as side constraints to be respected. Rights, after all, vary in importance, from the momentous to the utterly trivial. I have a right that you not steal the extra button on my shirt and also a right that you not torture and kill me just for fun. These are not on a par. Example: If A is about to rape B, and the only way that C can prevent this rape from occurring
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13blackboardnotesNozickSen2007 - 1 BLAC KBOARD N OTES ON...

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