Kimberley Brownlee, ‘Getting Rights out of Wrongs’

This chapter presents a typology of the rights that we can get through wrongdoing. It builds up a profile of the contexts in which new wrong-generated rights seem to emerge when we do wrong ourselves (Section 1), and when others do wrong (Section 2). The chapter then analyses why some wrongs change the moral ballgame to give us new rights, and others do not (Section 3). That analysis focuses on (a) how legitimate expectations can sometimes grow out of illegitimate expectations; (b) how personal investments, such as labor, skills, resources, genes, and identity, can make a moral difference; and (c) how we can have rights that piggyback on others’ interests even against a backdrop of wrongdoing. Finally, the chapter explores two ultimately unsuccessful strategies to resist this analysis of wrong-generated rights (Section 4). The first strategy focuses on the defeasibility of rights. The second focuses on the conditionality of rights.

Kimberley Brownlee, ‘Getting Rights out of Wrongs’ in David Sobel, Peter Vallentyne and Steven Wall (eds), Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy Volume 6 (Oxford University Press, February 2020).

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