Flawed attacks on contemporary human rights: Laudan, Sunstein, and the cost-benefit state
- Kristin Shrader-Frechette
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After giving a brief account of human rights, the paper investigates five contemporary attacks on them. All of the attacks come from two contemporary proponents of the cost-benefit state, attorney Cass Sunstein and philosopher Larry Laudan. These attacks may be called, respectively, the rationality, objectivity, permission, voluntariness, and comparativism claims. Laudan's and Sunstein's rationality claim (RC) ist that only policy decisions passing cost-benefit tests are rational. Their objectivity presupposition (OP) is that only acute, deterministic threats to life are objective. Sunstein’s permission claim (PC) is that regulators are merely permitted, 3 not required, to take distributive and human rights concerns into account. Sunstein’s 3 voluntariness claim (VC) is that the consent of potential victims is not relevant to government regulations about risks and benefits. Laudan’s comparativism claim 3 (CC) is that there are no rules of thumb, no precomparative norms like human rights, for assessing theory choice in policy science. The paper analyzes each of these claims, shows how they undercut human rights, and argues that each of them errs.
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- Flawed attacks on contemporary human rights: Laudan, Sunstein, and the cost-benefit state
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