Book: Contemporary Moral Problems
Book Review: Chapter 1- Ethical Theories- Joel Feinberg: The Nature and Value of Rights
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- I expect to learn the importance of rights
- A world without rights
- Personal Desert
“Feinberg wants to demonstrate that rights are morally important. To do this, he imagines Nowheresville, a world like our own except that people do not have rights. As a result, people in this world cannot make moral claims when they are treated unjustly. They cannot demand or claim just treatment, and so they are deprived of self respect and human dignity.”
Joel Feinberg illustrates the world without a right in Nowheresville. He used Nowheresville to help us picture how to live a life without having any rights. We know that having right as a person is important. I remember, during my poligov class, as a human being, we have so many rights. We have right to form assembly, right to speech, etc. These rights are our own way in showing that we exist and we belong in this society. We need this so that we can be treated fair and just. If we imagine living a life without any rights, we may think that how can we survive? Surely, it will be difficult and even it can degrade us as a human being. For example, a man works 8 hours a day and receives a minimum wage. In Nowheresville, a man works 8 hours a day and receives nothing. A man can not demand for anything, he can’t demand for salary, since he has no rights. If his master asks him to work 15 hours a day, he can’t protest anything because in Nowheseville, there are no rights at all. In our society today, employees have a right over their employer. If the employer treats his people unjust, the employees have the right to protest.
Personal Desert means when a person deserves something good from us what is meant in parts is that there would be a certain proprietary in our giving that good thing to him in virtue of the kind of person he is. According to Feinberg, deserving something good is not the same as having a right to it. The doctrine of the logical correlativity of rights and duties says that all duties entail other people’s right and all rights entail other’s people duty. The first part, all duties entail other people’s right, Feinberg says that this doctrine is somewhat right and somewhat wrong. He said that duty, from the root word due, is like a task. For example, payment of bills due date, etc.
1. What is a personal desert?
2. Is right important?
3. What are the disadvantages of a world without rights?
4. What is the doctrine of logical correlativity of rights and duties?
5. What is Nowheresville?
What I have learned:
I have learned about if our world is like Nowheresville, where there are no rights, we can’t make any claims and we will be treated unjustly.
- Describe Nowheresville. How this world different from our world?
Nowheresville is a world like our own except that people do not have rights. This world is different from our world because we have rights, we can make moral claims and we are treated equally.
- Explain the doctrine of the logical correlativity of rights and duties. What is Feinberg’s position on this doctrine?
This is the doctrine that:
- All duties entail other people’s rights
- All rights entail other people’s duties
Feinberg says that the first part of the doctrine is alleged entailment from duties to rights. His answer is “In a sense yes and in a sense no.” He said that the word duty is associated with the word due which is like the payments to the debts to creditors.
- How does Feinberg explain the concept of personal desert? How would personal desert work in Nowheresville?
Personal Desert means when a person deserves something good from us what is meant in parts is that there would be a certain proprietary in our giving that good thing to him in virtue of the kind of person he is. According to Feinberg, deserving something good is not the same as having a right to it. If a personal desert is been applied in Nowheresville, I think it would work in some way. Since people have no rights there, when you do work for your master and your master does not pay or reward you, you have no rights in asking for reward or payment.
- Explain the notion of a sovereign right monopoly. How would this work in Nowheresville according to Feinberg?
The sovereign has a certain duty to treat his subjects well, but this duty was owed not to the subjects directly but to God, just as we might have duty to a person to treat his property well, but of course no duty to the property itself but only to the owner.
“Introducing rights of a sort into Nowheresville, but they are not personal rights. The sovereign has a monopoly on all rights.”
- What are claim rights? Why does Feinberg think they are morally important?
Right is a kind of claim, and claim is an assertion of rights. I think it is morally important because all of us have a right enables us to stand up like men, to look others in the eye, and to feel some fundamental way the equal of anyone.
- Does Feinberg make a convincing case for the importance of rights? Why or why not?
Yes. When he introduced to us Nowheresville, he opens our eyes in a society where there are no rights. This makes us value our rights as a human.
- Can you give a non circular definition of claim rights?