Conflicts of Rights

Moral Theory and Social Policy Implications


John Rowan

First Edition • January 1, 2001 • 238 pages


Print ISBN: 9780813365640 • $41.00 USD$47.50 CAN

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The language of rights is utilized frequently in debates over contemporary social issues — a fetus’s right to life versus a woman’s right to choose, for example. Because these debates pertain to what our social policies should be, it is clear that the rights in question are moral rights, and that existing legal rights ought to be changed or maintained accordingly. The problem, however, is that moral rights require moral justification. In Conflicts of Rights, John Rowan takes this next step, and investigates possible moral justifications for rights alleged to exist in four contexts: abortion, affirmative action, welfare, and pornography freedoms. In doing so, he reaches conclusions about the morally appropriate policy for each issue, and also about the effectiveness of rights language in general.


John R. Rowan is assistant professor of philosophy at Purdue University Calumet. His research focuses on ethical theory, applied ethics, and professional ethics

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