Loren Lomasky - Essay Question: What is meant by liberty rights and what is Lomasky's argument for the priority of these rights over any other kind of other rights?

Essay by vashtiA-, May 2004

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The notion of human rights is an important ideal in a society that places value on the Kantian ideals of freedom, liberty and equality. According to Hinman, rights are the "central concept upon which...political organizations are built." Rights set limitations as to what extent others can encroach onto other individuals or groups. Human rights are the cornerstones on which society operates socially, aiming to provide protection, choice and security. Customarily, rights are used as a justification of the principles and rules that are accepted, and employed commonly amongst rational people. In discussing rights - particularly liberty and welfare rights I intend to argue that there is a strong distinction between the two, whilst exploring the idea of 'positive' and 'negative' rights. The strengths of each will be focused on through the theories of Loren Lomasky, Lawrence M. Hinman, John Locke and Immanuel Kant. Nonetheless, I lean toward agreeing with Lomasky's argument for the priority of the right of liberty over any other kind of right.

However, I will argue that the right to non-interference is a unique exception to this argument.

Basic human rights, as defined by Hinman, "express the minimum entitlements that are built into the social contract." The idea of a basic right is that they are the minimal reasonable demands on humanity, and it is only basic if the ability to exercise other rights is reliant on the utilization of that particular right. Basic rights are the foundations of all other rights, however, it is a contentious issue, as to what a set of basic rights constitutes. Equally contentious is what rights take priority and what duties we have in upholding or perhaps not interfering with these rights. A number of philosophers have attempted to clarify the concepts involved in liberty and welfare rights. However, the...