Determining Our Unconditional Obligations

David Bilchitz

in Poverty and Fundamental Rights

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552160
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191709456 | DOI:
 Determining Our Unconditional Obligations

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Rights that flow from a premise concerning the equal importance of individuals are not absolute and can be overridden by other weighty normative factors. This chapter draws an important distinction between ‘conditional rights’ and ‘unconditional rights’. It is argued that the rights argued for in Chapter 2 only become unconditional after a range of other important normative and pragmatic considerations are taken into account. Since these ‘conditional rights’ do not automatically result in clear practical obligations, the chapter considers several important considerations that could justify the failure to realise such rights fully. These include considerations of scarcity, sacrifice, urgency, effectiveness, and allocation. Ultimately, in determining the unconditional obligations upon the state, an all-things-considered consequentialist judgment must be made as to which state of affairs best succeeds in treating individuals with equal importance.

Keywords: conditional rights; unconditional rights; scarcity; urgency; sacrifice; effectiveness; allocation; consequentialist; state of affairs; equal importance

Chapter.  14190 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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