James Griffin

in On Human Rights

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780199238781
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191716478 | DOI:

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According to the personhood account, human rights are protections of our normative agency. Normative agency has stages. The first stage is autonomy, which consists in our assessing options and thereby forming a conception of a worthwhile life. To form and then to pursue that conception, we need various kinds of support: life itself of course, a certain level of health, certain physical and mental capacities, a certain amount of education, and so on. These are referred to as ‘minimum provision’. These are not enough for agency if others then stop us; we must also be free to pursue that conception. This is called ‘liberty’. All human rights will then come under one or other of these three overarching headings: autonomy, welfare, and liberty. And those three can be seen as constituting a trio of highest-level human rights. This chapter discusses the distinction between autonomy and liberty, the value of autonomy, the content of the right to autonomy, and autonomy and free will.

Keywords: human rights; autonomy; welfare; liberty; free will; normative agency

Chapter.  4222 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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