Human Rights and Human Well-Being

By William J. Talbott | Go to book overview

TWO
Exceptions to Libertarian Natural Rights

In the previous chapter, I proposed that we pay attention to the historical process of making exceptions to ground-level primary moral norms and principles. In this chapter, I compress and idealize some of that history to briefly illustrate the bottom-up reasoning involved, as an example of what it is that the main principle is designed to explain. I have claimed that the main principle provides a sufficient condition for the moral appropriateness of changes in ground-level primary moral judgments in any tradition that has passed the consequentialist threshold. I illustrate this claim by considering the natural rights tradition that developed in the West, because of the great power of that tradition and because the best way of explaining my theory of human rights is as a development from that tradition. However, it is important to realize that the main principle transcends any particular moral tradition to apply to all moral traditions that have passed the consequentialist threshold.

In the following conversation, three philosophers attempt to formulate ground-level moral principles for the state of nature, a situation in which there are no governments and thus no legal obligations. The state of nature is a heuristic for thinking about moral obligation in a way that avoids confusing it with legal obligation. The state of nature can play this heuristic role without our being committed to thinking that any such state ever actually existed.


An Example of Changes in Ground-Level Moral Principles
through Bottom-Up Reasoning

Three philosophers, Moses, Fred, and Bob, were discussing the state of nature. Moses asked them to consider the following example: Anne is sitting minding her own business. Adolph comes up to her, pulls out a gun, and threatens to kill her unless she will be his slave.

Moses, Fred, and Bob all agreed that it would be wrong for Adolph to coerce Anne in this way. Moses suggested the following ground-level principle to explain why it would be wrong:

The Simple Prohibition on Coercion. It is wrong to coerce another human being by threatening to kill her.

-28-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Human Rights and Human Well-Being
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 410

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.