Lost in Moral Space: On the Infringing/Violating Distinction and its Place in the Theory of Rights
Rutgers Law School; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - School of Law - Camden
Law and Philosophy, Vol. 23, No. 4, 2004
The infringing/violating distinction, first drawn by Judith Jarvis Thomson, is central to much contemporary rights theory. According to Thomson, conduct that is in some sense opposed to a right infringes it, while conduct that is also wrong violates the right. This distinction finds a home what I call, borrowing Robert Nozick's parlance, a "moral space" conception of rights, for the infringing/violating distinction presupposes that, as Nozick puts it, "a line (or hyper-plane) circumscribes an area in moral space around an individual." In this paper, I argue against the moral space conception of rights, and more specifically, against incorporating the infringing/violating distinction into a theory of rights. There are other compelling ways to think about rights and it is my goal to stimulate their exploration.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Date posted: May 18, 2009