William Talbott

in Which Rights Should Be Universal?

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780195173475
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835331 | DOI:

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In this chapter, Talbott responds to four main objections: (1) Rorty’s defense of Humean moral antirealism, the view that the development of human rights norms is a progress of sentiment, not reason; (2) Skyrms’s defense of evolutionary anti-realism, according to which the development of norms of fairness can be explained without supposing there are any truths about fairness; (3) Lee Kwan Yew’s "Asian values" objection to the concept of human rights as a Western invention that is not appropriate for Asian societies; (4) Cranston’s objection to the inclusion of economic and social rights as human rights. Talbott suggests that the characteristic that grounds basic human rights is autonomy in the non-metaphysical sense (understood as good judgment combined with self-determination). Talbott notes that moral progress itself is a collective action problem, so that moral progress depends on the capacity to adopt the moral standpoint and to cooperate rather than take a free ride, at least when the costs of cooperating are not too great.

Keywords: Asian values; Maurice Cranston; economic and social rights; empathy; evolutionary psychology; Lee Kwan Yew; moral antirealism; moral progress; moral realism; reason; Richard Rorty; sentiment; Brian Skyrms

Chapter.  7892 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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