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Rights, rationality and the problem of the self.

Graham, Paul (1994) Rights, rationality and the problem of the self. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis is a constructivist defence of the foundations of rights. Rights are the product of a choice-situation between rational agents; that is, agents who seek the greatest share of certain basic goods but who also recognize that their deliberations are constrained by moral considerations. The conceptual character of rights as prerogatives to pursue one's interests is a reflection of this construction procedure. It is crucial to the argument that the goods over which agents deliberate be of equal intrinsic value, and this requires that we have a certain conception of rational agency and a defensible metaphysics of the self. Much of the thesis is concerned with exploring the problems associated with different conceptions of the self and self-interest. It is argued that language, or communicative competence, is central to the development of both self-consciousness and deliberative rationality, and this fact has significant implications for how we should conceive of the moral foundations of rights. Constructivism stands opposed to intuitionism and utilitarianism and in Part I (after an initial conceptual analysis of rights) all three theories are discussed. Part II is devoted to a consideration of the nature of self-interest (or prudence) and the self (personal identity), whilst Part III advances a "solution" to the problems raised in Part II. Writers whose work receives critical attention include Rawls, Hare, Nagel, Parfit, Searle, Habermas and Apel.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1229

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