return to list of latest ideas

Single Idea 20285

[catalogued under 25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Legal Rights / a. Basis of rights]

Full Idea

If to have a right one must have the ability to desire that to which one has a right, then to have a right to life one must be able to desire one's own continued existence.

Gist of Idea

If a right entails having the relevant desire, many creatures might have no right to life


Peter Singer (Practical Ethics [1979], 07)

A Reaction

The unborn, small infants, and persons in comas may well lack the relevant desire (at least consciously - arguably even a plant has a non-conscious 'desire' or drive for life). The idea that a right entails a conscious desire seems daft.

Book Reference

Singer,Peter: 'Practical Ethics' [CUP 1989], p.141