Punishment and Rights

Project: Research

Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Philosophy

Layman's description

A common view is that all of us have human rights simply in virtue of being persons. Despite this it seems that we can lose our rights in certain circumstances, without ceasing to be persons. How is this possible? The project explores this issue, with particular attention to convicted offenders' loss of rights.

A common view is that all of us have human rights simply in virtue of being persons. Despite this it seems that we can lose our rights in certain circumstances, without ceasing to be persons. How is this possible? The project explores this issue, with particular attention to convicted offenders' loss of rights.

In the special case of criminals I start from the controversial position that persons forfeit rights, which I take to imply that I have acted in a blameworthy way. This view faces the challenge of explaining how rights forfeiture is possible given the standard doctrine that rights belong to people simply because they are persons, and hence cannot lose these rights while they remains persons. After all, a criminal act does not make one stop being a person.

More precisely, it is common to argue that persons have rights because they have the ability to make decisions and to act. I wish to explore the possibility of getting around the problem by abandoning this view, and instead claim that whether a given right belongs to individuals depends on how they act (and not just that they act). With such a stance it is not difficult to explain how individuals can forfeit rights. Or, rather, we can explain why they sometimes have these rights and sometimes not.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date2011/01/012011/12/31

Participants