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Philosophy 2810F/G
Jennifer Epp

READINGS WEEK 1 – LECT 1 GROUP RIGHTS AND 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 and 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 practices in which they can engage only in association with others  Moral rather than legal rights GROUP RIGHTS AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS  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 moral rights of individual citizens  Group representation may also be justified as a way of protecting goods to which groups are entitled only as groups  Claims of right do not always divide themselves analytically into group rights or individual rights THE COLLECTIVE  Collective conception: Raz subscribes to the interest theory of rights and his version of that theory has been widely adopted by others  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  Can have moral rights – rights if those who make up the group possess a join interesting 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  Interrelated and interdependent interests have moral significance only as the interests of individuals  Reaume adopt a more discriminating conception of group rights by being more selective about the kind of good to which a group can have a right  Some 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 THE COPPORATE 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 for the corporate than 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 to 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 possesses the right  Right holding group must be identifiable as a morally significant entity independently of the interests and rights it possesses  The only relevant consideration is whether a set of individuals shares an interest which adequately grounds a right SCEPTICISM ABOUT GROUP RIGHTS  It is hard to see how someone who accepts an interest theory of rights could find unacceptable the very idea that rights might be held by groups  The objection is that it is most commonly advanced against group rights is that groups have no moral st
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