- Rights might be seen as too vague.
- Rights might be too rigid: what happens when rights or duties conflict?
- Rights alone may be too impersonal and abstract.
- Rights may be seen as too adversarial: they conjure images of people taking others to court to protect their rights.
- There is a problem with justification in standard rights theories. Utilitarians can also use the six ways of justifying rights to defend their own theory: (1) a utilitarian can argue that he or she “intuits” that utilitarianism is correct; (2) a utilitarian can argue that he or she is more “compassionate” than anyone else and indeed “maximizes” compassion; (3) a utilitarian can also appeal to tradition; (4) Kant’s idea that ethical principles must be universalizable can apply to utilitarianism, which can be “universalized”; (5) Rawls’ theory of making principles of justice from the “original position” is vulnerable to the option of framing utilitarian ideas of justice from that position; (6) Gewirth’s theory does not protect against utilitarianism either: utilitarians agree that we need a certain amount of freedom and well-being to do anything but that we should not claim rights to these things, but rather maximize the good; and Gewirth’s principle of generic consistency just means treating like things alike and utilitarians do that too. Therefore, standard rights theories do not protect against utilitarianism (or indeed other theories of ethics) which may pose a threat to peace or which may defend violent acts.
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