Grounding rights and a method of reflective equilibrium

Abstract

A method of reflective equilibrium is adumbrated and then used to test the adequacy of moral conceptions appealing to fundamental human rights against Nietzschean conceptions of morality which would reject such an appeal. There is an attempt here both to articulate and critically probe a distinctive moral methodology (the method of reflective equilibrium) and to examine skeptical challenges to a foundationalism which would ground morality in fundamental rights claims. I attempt a partial testing of such a moral methodology by examining its ability to meet such skeptical challenges to the rational grounding of human rights, and I assess (and this is plainly a reciprocal process) the depth of such skeptical challenges by the ability of such challenges to survive such an application of a method of reflective equilibrium. If that method is applied with discrimination and understanding, is it sufficient to defuse skeptical challenges to the pervasive belief that either rationality or the very taking of the moral point of view requires the acceptance of the belief that the design of morally acceptable social institutions and practices must be such that they aim at achieving a state of affairs in which all human beings are to be afforded equal consideration? Can a method of reflective equilibrium establish that a good society must embody such a commitment to an equality of human rights?

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References found in this work

On Certainty (Ed. Anscombe and von Wright).Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1969 - New York and London: Harper Torchbooks.
Are There Any Natural Rights?H. L. A. Hart - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (2):175-191.
Sidgwick and Reflective Equilibrium.Peter Singer - 1974 - The Monist 58 (3):490-517.

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