Disappearing without a moral trace? Rights and compensation during times of emergency

Law and Philosophy 28 (6):617 - 649 (2009)
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Abstract

Scholars are divided over whether a victim's rights persist when an agent permissibly responds to an emergency. According to the prevailing view the moral force of rights is not extinguished by moral permissibility and the agent, therefore, has a duty to compensate the victim. According to another influential view permissibility does erase the moral force of rights and the agent, therefore, can only have a duty to compensate for reasons other than the fact that they committed a rights transgression. I argue that liability does not follow even if we grant that the victim's rights persevere. A non-pecuniary remedy such as a formal apology provides an adequate way of vindicating the victim's rights and of recognizing the agent's causal role. Thus, the answer to the question of what remedy the permissible transgressor owes the victim does not provide us with an answer to the question of who should bear the burden

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Simon Wigley
Bilkent University