Medical Ethics Harootunian 10/17/11 1 More on Rights – Act Utilitarianism, Rule Utilitarianism, and Nozick on Rights Rights are certain liberties or freedoms from the interferences of others. Several important questions need to be considered: What are the specific rights that we have? Are these rights violable or inviolable ? What justifies our rights? I won’t attempt to provide any systematic answers to the first question – the kind of answer that might provide a taxonomy of r ights. I’ve been assu ming that among our rights are rights of bodily integrity, self-determination, expression, association, property, and many others. I wish to give some attention to the last two questions – the questions about the nature and justification of the rights that we have. More specifically, I’ve bee n interested in what utilitarianism has to say about the last two questions. Consider act utilitarianism. AU says that rights are justified by the fact that the act of not interfering in a person ’ s life would maximize the aggregate utility in a society. But suppose that in certain circumstances the aggregate utility is maximized by the act of interfering in a person’s life, or in the lives of a certain minority group – that is, by the act of violating the rights of a person or group of persons. By AU, the morally right act in these circumstances is the act that violates the rights of the person(s) involved. On an AU account of rights, rights are not inviolable. One might resort to
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This note was uploaded on 11/07/2011 for the course PHIL 164 taught by Professor Doviak during the Fall '07 term at UMass (Amherst).