LESSON 7: MEANING AND TYPES OF RIGHTS
Dear students, today we will learn about rights.
Points to be covered in this lesson:
Concept of a right Types of rights
The concept of a “right.” obviously appears in many of the moral argu-ments and moral-claims invoked in business discussions. Employees, for ex-ample, argue that they have a “right to equal pay for equal work”; managers assert that unions violate their “right to manage”; investors complain that tax- ation violates their “property rights”; consumers claim that they have a “right to know.” Moreover, public documents often employ the notion of a right. In 1948 the United Nations adopted a “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” which claimed that “all human beings” are entitled, among other things, to:
Right to Life The right to life is the fundamental right, of which all other rights are corollaries. The right to life states that you own your own body. It is your property to do with as you please. No one may force you to do anything, no one may injure you in any way, and above all, no one may take your life (without consent). The opposite to the right to life is life as a slave, where someone or some people essentially own you — they can dictate what you do, when you do it, and take your life if they please. It should be noted that rights are guarantees to freedom of actions. They do not provide for anything but freedom of action. There is no right to food, for example; only the right to work and keep the proceeds with which you may buy food. Right to Liberty The right to liberty is a part of the right to life, specifically referring to your freedom of action. You may do what you want, when you want, provided you don’t trample on the rights of anyone else. This is a necessity for man’s life because man’s means of survival is reason. Survival by reason requires that you are able to act upon your reason otherwise your reason is of no avail. You can only act on your reason if you are free from the coercion of others. If society were to permit some actions and not others, it would be permitting some reason and not other reason. It would be effectively destroying individual reason by making reason second place to some other standard. When a society prevents its citizens from the initiation of force, however, it is not circumventing reason, because there is never a reason for the initiation of force. Right to Property Property rights are an extension to the right to life. In order to support yourself through reason and stay alive, you must be able to own and use the product of your labor. If the tools of your survival are subject to random confiscation, then your life is subject to random destruction. Right to the Pursuit of Happiness The right to the pursuit of happiness is freedom of action. To live, man must achieve values. To achieve values, man must be free to think and act. The right to the pursuit of happiness means a man is free to do anything he pleases, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the rights of others. Since man must use his own mind to live, he must be able to choose his values and act towards them. Even acts which are destructive to himself must be allowed, or a man cannot live by his own mind. Ultimately, man must be free to pursue his own goals and happiness. Right to Free Speech The right to free speech is a recognition that speech in itself if devoid of physical threats is not an initiation of force and does
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The right to own property alone as well as in association with others. The right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work, and to protection against unemployment. The right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for [the worker] and his family an existence worthy of human dignity . . . The right to form and to join trade unions . . . the right to rest and leisure. including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay. .
The concept of a right and the correlative notion of duty, then, lie at the heart of much of our moral discourse. This section is intended to provide an understanding of these concepts and of some of the major kinds of ethical principles and methods of analysis that underlie their use. But what do we actually mean by right? Lets try to understand this term in a much better way.
The Concept of a Right
A ‘right’ is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. - Ayn Rand Individual rights state explicitly the requirements for a person to benefit rather than suffer from living in a society. They codify man’s protection from the initiation of force, as required by his rational nature. Being required by man’s rational nature, rights are not arbitrary or negotiable. They are absolute requirements for life within a society. Rights are absolute.
not warrant any retaliatory force. Many dictatorships and People’s States will outlaw certain types of speech as being dangerous or inflammatory or against the will of the people, but this censorship is just an evasion of reality - hoping that if a problem is ignored it will go away. Freedom of speech is required for liberty because without the freedom of speech, you cannot persuade others of what is right and what is wrong. Without the freedom to persuade others, only force can make people act in a particular way. It is an important check on government because it allows transgressions to be identified and fixed rather than hidden and perpetuated. Right to Self Defense The right to defend yourself is a corollary to the right to life. You must be able to protect what is yours when it is threatened. If you are being attacked the situation leaves the realm of morality - it leaves the realm of the everyday and becomes an emergency. In such an emergency, anything goes. That is the choice that your attacker has made, and he must live with his choice. The government must maintain the right to bear arms so that self defense will be possible. Some say that right is just an individual’s entitlement to do something. A person has a right when that person is entitled to act in a certain way or is entitled to have others act in a certain way toward him or her. But according to Jonah Goldberg : A right is not an “entitlement.” A right is inalienable, which means that it cannot be violated by anyone for any reason. It should not be violated by freelance goons, the Mafia, or even the government. It cannot be, in good conscience, violated for any reason: not for “the public good,” or to feed other people. The price of having rights means respecting those of others. This is because, if everyone stole, raped, and murdered, then no one would be safe and no rights would exist. Adhering to the rights of others is the price of a free society. This is why respecting the rights of others is integral to having rights of one’s own. Rights are powerful devices whose main purpose is that of enabling the individual to choose freely whether to pursue certain interests or activities and of protecting those choices. In day-today basis we use the term right for all these things: 1. We use the term right to indicate the mere absence of prohibitions against pursuing some interest or activity. 2. We use the term right to indicate that a person is authorized or empowered to do something either to secure the interests of others or to secure one’s interests. 3. The term right is sometimes used to indicate the existence of prohibitions or requirements on others that enable the individual to pursue certain interests or activities.
Moral Rights Entitlements can also derive from a system of moral standards independently of any particular legal system. Moral rights or human rights are based on moral norms and principles that specify that all human beings are permitted or empowered to do something or are entitled to have something done for them. Moral rights, unlike legal rights, are usually thought of as being universal insofar as they are rights that all human beings of every nationality possess to an equal extent simply by virtue of being human beings. Unlike legal rights, moral rights are not limited to a particular jurisdiction. Moral rights are rights that impose prohibitions or requirements on others and which thereby enable individuals to choose freely whether to pursue certain activities or certain interests. These moral rights identify those activities or interests that the individual is empowered to pursue, as he or she chooses; and they protect the individual’s pursuit of those interests and activities within the boundaries specified by the rights.
The features of Moral Rights are:
1. Moral rights and duties go hand in hand. Students you should try to understand that if you know your rights then you have to know your duties also as a responsible citizen. This is because one person’s moral right generally can be defined – at least partially in terms of the moral duties other people have towards that person. To have a moral right necessarily implies that others have certain duties toward the bearer of that right. Duties, are generally the other side of moral rights: If I have a moral right to do something, then other people have a moral duty not to interfere with me when I do it. In some cases, the correlative duties imposed by a right may fall not on any specific individual but on all the members of a group. If a person has the right to work, this does not necessarily mean that any specific employer has a duty to provide that person with a job. 2. Moral rights provide individuals with autonomy and equality in the free pursuit of their interests. A right identifies activities or interests that people must be left free to pursue or not pursue as they themselves choose and whose pursuit may not be subordinated to the interests of others except for special and exceptionally weighty reasons. 3. Moral rights provide a basis for justifying one’s actions and for invoking the protection or aid of others. If I have a moral right to do something, then I have a moral justification for doing that. Moreover, if I have a right to do something, then others have no justification for interfering with me. How Moral Rights are Different from Utilitarianism: • Moral Rights express the requirements of morality from the point of view of the individual while utilitarianism expresses the requirements of morality from the point of view of society as whole.
Types of Rights
Legal Rights The entitlement may derive from legal system that permits or empowers the person to act in a specified way or that requires others to act in certain ways toward that person: the entitlement is then called legal right. Legal rights are limited to the particular jurisdiction within which legal system is in force.
Moral rights promote the individual’s welfare and protect the individual’s choices against encroachment by society while utilitarianism expresses the requirements of morality from the point of view of society as a whole.
Positive and Negative Rights Since the concept of rights limits the actions of the govern- ment, the only way to circumvent them is by adding new rights that are allegedly superior to the others. The concept of Positive Rights was developed. These new rights differ from the old rights. Instead of involving freedom from interference from others, these new rights demand goods and services. 1. Positive Right is when you have a right to something that means you can force someone else to provide you with it 2. A Negative Right is when you have a right to something, but you have to gain/maintain it yourself. Negative rights is distinguished by the fact that its members can be defined wholly in terms of the duties others have to not interfere in certain activities of the person who holds a given right. On the other hand positive rights do more than impose negative duties. They also imply that some other agents have the positive duty of providing the holder of the right with whatever he or she needs to freely pursue his or her interests. Contractual Rights and Duties Contractual rights and duties (sometimes called special rights and duties or special obligations) are the limited rights and. correlative duties that arise when one person enters an agreement with another person. For example, if I contract to do something for you, then you are entitled to my performance: You acquire a contractual right to whatever I promised, and I have a contrac-tual duty to perform as I promised. How Contractual Rights and Duties are Different from Other Rights and Duties: Contractual rights and duties are distinguished, 1. Contractual rights are attached to specific individuals and the correlative duties are imposed only on other specific individual. If I agree to do something for you, everyone else does not thereby acquire new rights over me, nor do I acquire any new duties toward them. 2. Contractual rights arise out of a specific transaction be-tween particular individuals. Unless I actually make a promise or enter some other similar arrangement with you, you do not acquire any contractual rights over me. 3. Contractual rights and duties depend on a publicly accepted sys-tem of rules that define the transactions that give rise to those rights and duties. Contract for example, create special rights and. duties between people only if the people recognize and accept a system of conventions that speci-fies that by doing certain things (such as signing a paper) a person undertakes an obligation to do what he or she agrees to do Without the institution of contract and the rights and duties it can create, modem business societies could not operate. Virtually every business transac-tion at some point requires one of the parties to rely on the word of the other party to the effect that the other party will pay later, will deliver certain services later, or will transfer goods of a certain quality and quantity. Contractual rights and duties also provide a basis for the special duties or obligations that people acquire when they accept a position or a role within a legitimate social institution or an organization. Married parents, for example, have a special duty
to care, for the upbringing of their children; doctors have a special duty to care for the health of their patients; and managers have a spe-cial duty to care for the organization they administer. In each of these cases, there is a publicly accepted institution (such as a familial, medical, or corpo-rate institution) that defines a certain position or role (such as parent, doctor, your manager) on which the welfare of certain vulnerable persons (such as the parent’s children, the doctor’s patients, the managers corporate constituencies) depends. Society attaches to these institutional roles special duties of caring for these- vulnerable dependents and of protecting them from injury, duties that the person who enters the role knows he or she is expected to fulfill. When a person freely enters the role knowing what duties society attaches to the ac-ceptance of the role that person in effect enters an agreement to fulfill those duties.
So what kind of ethical rules do you think govern contracts. The system of rules that underlies contractual rights and duties has been traditionally interpreted as including several moral constraints:
1. Both of the parties to a contract must have full knowledge of the nature of the agreement they are entering. 2. Neither party to a contract must intentionally misrepresent the facts of the contractual situation to other party. 3. Neither party to the contract must be forced to enter the contract under duress or coercion. 4. The contract must not bind the parties to an immoral act. Contracts that violate one or more of these four conditions have traditionally been considered void.
A ‘right’ is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. Rights are absolute. The price of having rights means respecting those of others.
Briefly discuss moral rights. How are moral rights different from utilitarianism?
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