Objective Rights and Epistemic Risks
Renee Bolinger (Australian National University, Princeton University)

August 30, 2018, 4:15pm - 5:15pm
School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne, The University of Melbourne

Jim Potter Room/Old Physics
University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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This paper argues that our understanding of objective rights must be sensitive to agents’ epistemic limitations. On one popular understanding (which I call the `full-information fact-relative' interpretation), considerations about ignorance are relevant only to the `subjective permissibility' of an act, affecting culpability but not whether an act is a rights-violation. Against this view, I argue that subjective permissibility is not an adequate answer to the problems that agent ignorance poses for the deliberative and distributive roles of moral rights. If rights are to fill the theoretical role assigned to them, they must issue fact-relative permissions that are at least somewhat sensitive to agents' evidential and epistemic limitations.

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