Saturday, July 09, 2005

L&S: Consequentialist Reasoning about Natural Rights

James is currently lecturing on the foundations of classical liberalism. He began with the traditional distinction between natural rights and consequentialist justifications. I haven’t yet discerned whether James thinks the distinction really stands scrutiny. I thought it worth noting that the natural law tradition (of which natural rights are an extension) did not eschew considerations of consequences. In discerning what rights ought to be considered natural, natural law theorists like Aquinas advocated the use “practical reasoning” about real-world circumstances. More comments along these lines here.

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