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Philosophy 2801F/G Chapter Notes -Individual And Group Rights, Moral Rights, Legal Personality


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 2801F/G
Professor
Lawson

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GROUP RIGHTS AND GROUP OPPRESSION PETER JONES
Has regarded the proposition that groups can hold rights with a mixture of scepticism and
suspicion
Revival stemmed from a resigned acceptance that some longstanding and widely espoused
rights
New worries about the fate of ethnic and cultural minorities an from doubts about whether the
concern and respect due to those minorities can be adequately secured
What is fundamentally important for people relates to identities that they can possess and to
practises in which they can engage only in association with others
Moral rights rather than legal rights
GROUP RIGHTS AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS
Agreement: a right is a group right only if it is a right held by a group rather than by its members
severally
A right is a group right only if it is a right held by a group
Relating a right to a characteristic that individuals share with others does not transform it into a
group right
Rights can also be associated with group membership and group activity without being group
rights
Rights that relate to group membership and group activity need not be group rights
If groups are accorded constitutional rights to representation qua groups, these constitutional
rights must be group rights may be grounded in the moral rights of individual citizens
Group representation may also be adjusted as a way of protecting goods to which groups are
entitled only as groups
Claims of rights do not always divide themselves analytically into group rights or individual rights
GROUP RIGHTS THE COLLECTIVE CONCEPTION
Collective conception Raz subscribes to the interest theory of rights and his version of that
theory has been widely adopted by others
An individual can have rights if and only if either his wellbeing is of ultimate value or he is an
artificial person for example a corporation
My interest yields a right only if it is an interest sufficiently significant to create a duty for
another or others
Rights ground duties
Group can have moral rights if those who make up the group possess a joint interest in a good
that justifies the imposition of duties upon others
Any set of individuals who possess a joint interest in a good can have group rights relating to
that good provided that their joint interest is sufficiently significant to create duties for others
Group rights, groups that possess rights can be sets of individuals who share nothing but an
interest on a specific matter
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Interrelated and interdependent interests have moral significance only as the interests of
individuals
Reaume adopted a more discriminating conception of group rights by being more selective
about the kind of good to which a group can have a right
Public goods might reasonably be the objects of individual rights
Hence, although a group can have a right only to a public good a good public to the group
not all rights to public goods need be group rights
Participatory goods goods which by their very nature must be enjoyed publicly if they are to
be enjoyed at all
These goods need not be participatory or even public in all of their aspects
Only groups can have rights to participatory public goods
Understand ground rights as rights to participatory goods
Rights to participatory goods can only be group rights
GROUP RIGHTS THE CORPORATE CONCEPTION
To violate a right is to wrong the holder of the right. It is to fail to do what is owed to the right
holder
Moral standing is a precondition of right holding
A moral right is a moral title and only beings possessed of moral standing can possess
entitlements which are sources of moral obligation for others
There need be no suggestion that a group has moral standing, that is somehow separate from
and not wholly reducible to the moral standing of the several individuals who constitute the
group
What distinguishes a group as a group for right holding purposes is quite different or the
corporate than for the collective conception
Cultural features commonly possessed by groups wellbeing of individuals who share in those
features is generally best served by their having a collective right of self determination
A nation in so far as it bears rights is an interest group nations have rights of self
determination only because those rights serve the wellbeing of individuals
Nations merely as such do not have rights
A proponent of the corporate conception may hold that a groups interests must play a defining
role in identifying its rights
Unlike the collective conception, the corporate conception need not be wedded to an interest
theory of rights without interests it is hard to see what it could be that accumulates across
individuals to make the case for a collective right
SIGNIFICANCE OF GROUP IDENTITY
Corporate conception must insist that a right holding group has a clear identity as a group
A group must be sufficiently well defined to enable the identification of the social entity that
possess the right
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