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  The Ethics of Rights View

We should treat each other as being worthy of respect

The Ethics of Right tradition, or deontological ethics, emphasises that every human being must be treated with respect. Being treated with respect means that there are certain things we should never do to each other: killing, lying, stealing, etc, even if or when we can expect some good consequences of such actions. Lying to someone in order to promote the welfare of that person, or some other person, is not treating him or her respectfully.

Every person has rights, or ought to be seen as a bearer of rights, and we have an obligation to respect these rights. Naturally, there are several conflicting views about what these rights should be. The rights in question are moral, not legal rights, but of course a proponent of the ethics of rights would want legal rights to accommodate or express at least some of our moral rights. For instance, the legal right not to be tortured could be based on the moral inviolability of individuals.

Some versions of the ethics of rights tradition have something in common with the contractualist position (see contractualism): the rights we have are those rights that we can, or should, all agree upon. The crucial difference is that ethics of rights go beyond self-interest and argue that we can have rights and duties that are not necessarily to the egoistic advantage of all parties.