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On the Non-instrumental Value of Basic Rights

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image of Journal of Moral Philosophy

Basic rights are often of great instrumental value in securing protection for important human needs and interests. The first two sections of this paper defend the thesis that basic rights are also valuable independently of their instrumental role. Taking my cue from Frances Kamm's suggestion that basic rights reflect or express human worth, in the third, fourth and fifth sections I develop the proposal that the non-instrumental value of basic rights derives from their constitutive role in a universal form of community or fellowship. The importance of basic rights' instrumental role is reaffi rmed in the final section of the paper, which builds on the earlier sections to offer a 'mixed' theory according to which basic rights have both instrumental and non-instrumental value.


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