Download An Introduction to Rights (Cambridge Introductions to by William A. Edmundson PDF

By William A. Edmundson

This obtainable advent to the background, good judgment, ethical implications, and political developments of the idea that of rights is equipped chronologically. masking such vital occasions because the French Revolution, it's well-suited as an introductory-level, undergraduate textual content in such classes as political philosophy, ethical philosophy, and ethics. the quantity is additionally utilized in classes on political thought in departments of political technology and executive, and in classes on criminal thought in legislation colleges.

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Francis Bacon’s turning away from scholastic to experimental methods of investigating the world marks the beginning of this period, and we can think of it as ending with (if not culminating in) two political revolutions: the American and the French, which defined the first expansionary period. What began as a new, antidogmatic and inquisitive approach to the study of nature was applied to human affairs, and with consequences that are still unfolding. 15 16 The First Expansionary Era A subjective concept of rights – subjective in focusing in an important but as yet unspecified way upon the right-holder – had already emerged at least as early as the late Middle Ages, in disputes among Catholic clerics.

Morality, in Paley’s account, is a matter of following God’s rules. But not all of these rules appear in Scripture; there are simply too many kinds of issue to be dealt with in any manageably sized code of rules. Moreover, Scripture was intended only to emphasize moral truths that are known to everyone in another way, by “principles of natural justice” (8). But how are these principles known? One proposal that Paley discarded is that humans are endowed with a special moral sense that enables them intuitively to reach correct conclusions in circumstances not within a Scriptural rule, or where a Scriptural rule is of ambiguous application.

Locke wanted to refute both of two very different arguments favoring absolute monarchy. Both arguments rested on an appeal to the idea of rights. One was Robert Filmer’s argument that the legitimacy of the English monarch derived from a divine right invested in Adam that had descended by inheritance to the then-present king. The other argument from rights to absolutism was Hobbes’s. Setting aside Locke’s refutation of Filmer, let us focus on his answer to Hobbes, which Locke advanced in The Second Treatise of Government (1690).

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