J.L. Mackie - Can There Be a Right-Based Moral Theory?
Utilitarianism - easy to derive duties and rights from the basic goal. There are obligations for people in general if happiness is to be achieved.
Kantian - The means/ends formulation of the CI can be seen as a goal that assigns rights to persons.
Right - a freedom (to do) and a claim right (others have an obligation not to prevent one from doing what he has a right to do).
There is no way to take the fact of having a right as having anything to do with entailing a goal nor does it mean that a goal is to be realized. But it may be that a right must exist if a goal is to be realized.
Maybe there are rights that are fundamental and other rights, goals and duties are derived from them???
What would be the advantages of a rights-based morality?
1. Rights are things people ought to have and want to have, whereas duties are bothersome, an annoyance.
2. Duty for duty's sake is absurd, but rights for rights' sake is not. Morality might be based on divine commands but if we reject this as a starting point of morality, we will see morality as a human product - and duties will not be seen as a starting point.
3. A goal-based theory like utilitarianism is that they allow and may require the sacrifice of the well being of one person or a small group for the well-being of others.
Utilitiarianism can explain away this embarrassment.
A plausible goal for humanity might be something
like Aristotle's Eudaimonia. Maybe if fairness were added to this
in goal-based theories, a duty-based element is created. Aristotle
was wrong in saying that there is some particular hting that is good because
people differ widely in the lives they choose. They don't choose
on thing once and for all. When this is taken into account, the right
of people to choose how they will live is the central right.
Even Mill indicates that this is true - individual liberty - Utility in its largest sense is grounded on the interests of a man as a progressive being - and note that this is meant in the individual sense, not in the collective sense. Perhaps Mill's theory resolves itself into a right-based one.
People have a central right to choose how they
will live. Of course, it is inevitable that these rights will conflict.
If thisis the case, then final rights will be the result of the compromises
between conflicting rights.
So, the general right ot liberty must be fundamental. Dworkin suggested that the fundamental right is an equal right to concern and respect because such a right can't be in conflict with any other person's right to the same thing. Mackie, however, sticks to a general right to liberty - Dworkin must be wrong beause the right to be treated in a certain way depends on a right to certain opportunities of living.
Joseph Raz, "Right-Based Moralities"
Argues against morality as right-based. Argues for pluralism as the basis of morality.
A general principle - a humanistic one - the explanation or justification of any claims of good/bad derive from its contribution to human life and the quality of life.
A right-based morality can't do this. Right-based moralities are (or would be) impoverished moral theories.
1. Moralities of rights and duties. There is much more
to morality than this. Right-based moralities can't account for or
a. That we often ought to do things that we are not obligated to do. What we ought to do is not exhausted by what we have an obligation to do.
b. Cannot account for the moral significance
of supererogatory actions.
Remember the traditional distinction in moral theories between actions that are a) required, b) forbidden, and c) permitted. Where do supererogatory actions fit? It doesn't seem that right-based morality could accommodate these.
c. Can't allow for intrinsic value of virtue and the pursuit of excellence. The best a right-based morality can do is to allow for the cultivation of dispositions and character traits as instrumentally valuable, but not as valuable in themselves.
Right-based moralities are individualistic.
They cannot recognize the value (intrinsic) of a collective good.
Examples: friendship and obligations owed to friends that extend well beyond the purely or ordinarily obligatory
the value of artwork and our obligation to preserve it.
We have to recognize the existence of many options - they are collective goods. It is not possible for a person to live an autonomous life when he does not have real options. Autonomy is desirable. Autonomy is found in one making one's own life.
Rights-based moral theories cannot constitute all of our reasons for action and they only set limits to the individual's pursuit of his own goals. They do not see that it is also important to make possible the pursuit of one's goals.
Right-based morality is individualistic, a narrow
conception of morality. Moral individualism must be rejected.
What would Mackie say to this argument?