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Winner of The Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize 2004: Poverty and Rights

James W. Nickel
The Philosophical Quarterly (1950-)
Vol. 55, No. 220 (Jul., 2005), pp. 385-402
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3543094
Page Count: 18
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Winner of The Philosophical Quarterly Essay Prize 2004: Poverty and Rights
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Abstract

I defend economic and social rights as human rights, and as a feasible approach to addressing world poverty. I propose a modest conception of economic and social rights that includes rights to subsistence, basic health care and basic education. The second part of the paper defends these three rights. I begin by sketching a pluralistic justificatory framework that starts with abstract norms pertaining to life, leading a life, avoiding severely cruel treatment, and avoiding severe unfairness. I argue that economic and social rights are not excessively burdensome on their addressees and that they are feasible worldwide in the appropriate sense. Severe poverty violates economic and social rights, and accordingly generates high-priority duties of many parties to work towards its elimination.

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