The Interest Theory of Rights and Harmless Wronging: What Else is of Interest?
According to the Interest Theory of Rights, it is necessary for right-ascriptions that the putative right protects its holder’s interests. My thesis examines a range of cases in which we might want to attribute rights (and right-violations) and yet it appears as though the right-holder is not harmed by the violation of that right. Call these cases of "harmless wronging". One might think that, because the agent is not harmed in such cases, an interest is not protected by the right under question. This means that the necessary condition for the ascription of a right is not satisfied. Particularly, I consider cases of preemption (or overdetermination, as they are sometimes known), pure risk imposition, and harmless discrimination. I offer a novel solution to this problem: the Safety Condition. For an agent not to be under a duty that correlates with some right, it is not enough that the right-holder turns out to not be worse off if the correlative duty-bearer does not act as her duty dictates. Rather, it is necessary that the right-holder is safely not worse off across some relevant set of worlds.
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