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Group Rights and Group Agency *

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On some theories of rights, such as the Choice theory, only agents can have moral rights. The realm of right-holders thus excludes several potential candidates, among which are young children, mentally incapacitated persons, and groups since these are thought to lack the required degree of agency. This paper argues that groups can be right-holders. The argument comes in three steps: first, it is argued that full-blown or autonomous agency is not required for the possession of Choice theory rights, second, that groups can be seen as agents, albeit in a limited sense, and third, that groups can make irreducibly collective choices in spite of their limited agency. The upshot of this argument is that groups can have rights, provided that they are organized around a coherent decision-making procedure; furthermore, this account can be employed to argue that other creatures of limited agency are possible right-holders.

Affiliations: 1: Centre de Recherche en Éthique de L’Université de Montréal (CRÉUM), C.P. 6128, Succ. Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3J7 Canada adina.preda@ucd.ie

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