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On Human Rights$
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James Griffin

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199238781

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238781.001.0001

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(p.149) 8 Autonomy
On Human Rights

James Griffin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

According to the personhood account, human rights are protections of our normative agency. Normative agency has stages. The first stage is autonomy, which consists in our assessing options and thereby forming a conception of a worthwhile life. To form and then to pursue that conception, we need various kinds of support: life itself of course, a certain level of health, certain physical and mental capacities, a certain amount of education, and so on. These are referred to as ‘minimum provision’. These are not enough for agency if others then stop us; we must also be free to pursue that conception. This is called ‘liberty’. All human rights will then come under one or other of these three overarching headings: autonomy, welfare, and liberty. And those three can be seen as constituting a trio of highest-level human rights. This chapter discusses the distinction between autonomy and liberty, the value of autonomy, the content of the right to autonomy, and autonomy and free will.

Keywords:   human rights, autonomy, welfare, liberty, free will, normative agency

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