Harming, not Aiding, and Positive Rights

F. M. Kamm

in Morality, Mortality Volume II: Rights, Duties, and Status

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780195144024
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199870998 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Ethics Series

 Harming, not Aiding, and Positive Rights

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Considers what would follow if the General Equivalence Thesis (GE) of the moral equivalence of harming and not aiding (in cases in which less than life is at stake) were true. The possible existence of positive rights (or duties minus correlative rights) is considered, and an argument against positive rights by Judith Thomson is examined. Arguments are considered that attempt to derive positive rights or duties from the existence of negative rights and a warning given against the failure to consider the role of independent rights or self‐standing claims to things, and the significance of already having had something. An examination is made of how far it is possible to come, consistent with Thesis GE, toward deriving the radical conclusion that we may have a right to something to which we have no independent right or self‐standing claim if it is not permissible to take it from us.

Keywords: duties; duties minus correlative rights; General Equivalence Thesis; harming; independent rights; moral equivalence; negative rights; not aiding; positive rights; self‐standing claims; Judith Thomson

Chapter.  11087 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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