The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 71-98

First online:

In Defense of the Jurisdiction Theory of Rights

  • Eric MackAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Tulane University

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This essay critically examines three theories of moral rights, theBenefit, the Interest, and the Choice theories. The Interest andChoice theories attempt to explain how rights can be more robustthan seems possible on the Benefit theory. In particular, moralrights are supposed to be resistant to trade-offs to supportprincipled anti-paternalism, to constitute a distinct dimensionof morality, and to provide right holders with a range ofdiscretionary choice. I argue that these and other featuresare better yet provided by a fourth theory of moral rights, theJurisdiction theory.

agent-relativity benefit theory choice theory individuated aims interest theory moral rights paternalism