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Conly, Sarah, , . One Child: Do We Have a Right to More?
2016, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Summary: A compelling argument for the morality of limitations on procreation in lessening the harmful environmental effects of unchecked population. We live in a world where a burgeoning global population has started to have a major and destructive environmental impact. The results, including climate change and the struggle for limited resources, appear to be inevitable aspects of a difficult future. Mandatory population control might be a possible last resort to combat this problem, but is also a potentially immoral and undesirable violation of human rights. Since so many view procreation as an essential component of the right to personal happiness and autonomy, the dominant view remains that the government does not have the right to impose these restrictions on its own citizens, for the sake of future people who have yet to exist. Sarah Conly is first to make the contentious argument that not only is it wrong to have more than one child in the face of such concerns, we do not even retain the right to do so. In One Child, Conly argues that autonomy and personal rights are not unlimited, especially if one’s body may cause harm to anyone, and that the government has a moral obligation to protect both current and future citizens. Conly gives readers a thought-provoking and accessible exposure to the problem of population growth and develops a credible view of what our moral obligations really are, to generations present and future.

Comment: This book would be an excellent resource for an upper-division course on population ethics, ethcs of reproduction, autonomy, or human rights. It would also serves as a good overview of positions in population ethics or as a supplement to a class on environmental ethics and future generations.

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Lafont, Christina, , . Accountability and Global Governance: Challenging the State-Centric Conception of Human Rights
2010, Ethics and Global Politics 3 (3): 193-215.
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Abstract: In this essay I analyze some conceptual difficulties associated with the demand that global institutions be made more democratically accountable. In the absence of a world state, it may seem inconsistent to insist that global institutions be accountable to all those subject to their decisions while also insisting that the members of these institutions, as representatives of states, simultaneously remain accountable to the citizens of their own countries for the special responsibilities they have towards them. This difficulty seems insurmountable in light of the widespread acceptance of a state-centric conception of human rights, according to which states and only states bear primary responsibility for the protection of their citizens’ rights. Against this conception, I argue that in light of the current structures of global governance the monistic ascription of human rights obligations to states is no longer plausible. Under current conditions, states are bound to fail in their ability to protect the human rights of their citizens whenever potential violations either stem from transnational regulations or are perpetrated by non-state actors. In order to show the plausibility of an alternative, pluralist conception of human rights obligations I turn to the current debate among scholars of international law regarding the human rights obligations of non-state actors. I document the various ways in which these obligations could be legally entrenched in global financial institutions such as the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. These examples indicate feasible methods for strengthening the democratic accountability of these institutions while also respecting the accountability that participating member states owe to their own citizens. I conclude that, once the distinctions between the obligations to respect, protect and fulfill human rights are taken into account, no conceptual difficulty remains in holding states and non-state actors accountable for their respective human rights obligations.

Comment: This journal article would fit well within a course that considers the political and legal aspects of human rights. It would also be useful in a course on global justice or global democracy. It will be of particular interest to advanced undergraduates and graduate students interested in non-state actors and human rights.

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Lafont, Christina, , . Alternative Visions of a New Global Order: What Should Cosmopolitans Hope For?
2008, Ethics and Global Politics (1).
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Abstract: In this essay, I analyze the cosmopolitan project for a new international order that Habermas has articulated in recent publications. I argue that his presentation of the project oscillates between two models. The first is a very ambitious model for a future international order geared to fulfill the peace and human rights goals of the UN Charter. The second is a minimalist model, in which the obligation to protect human rights by the international community is circumscribed to the negative duty of preventing wars of aggression and massive human rights violations due to armed conflicts such as ethnic cleansing or genocide. According to this model, any more ambitious goals should be left to a global domestic politics, which would have to come about through negotiated compromises among domesticated major powers at the transnational level. I defend the ambitious model by arguing that there is no basis for drawing a normatively significant distinction between massive human rights violations due to armed conflicts and those due to regulations of the global economic order. I conclude that the cosmopolitan goals of the Habermasian project can only be achieved if the principles of transnational justice recognized by the international community are ambitious enough to cover economic justice.

Comment: This article addresses topics that may be covered by a wide variety of courses. Lafont addresses both a Rawlsian and a Habermasian theory of global justice and international law, making this a good text to supplement a course that covers institutional proposals for global justice and fulfilling other cosmopolitan obligations.

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Sreenivasan, Gopal, , . A Human Right to Health? Some Inconclusive Scepticism
2012, Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 86 (1):239-265.
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Abstract: This paper offers four arguments against a moral human right to health, two denying that the right exists and two denying that it would be very useful (even if it did exist). One of my sceptical arguments is familiar, while the other is not.The unfamiliar argument is an argument from the nature of health. Given a realistic view of health production, a dilemma arises for the human right to health. Either a state’s moral duty to preserve the health of its citizens is not justifiably aligned in relation to the causes of health or it does not correlate with the human right to health. It follows that no one holds a justified moral human right to health against the state.Education and herd immunity against infectious disease both illustrate this dilemma. In the former case, the state’s moral duty correlates with the human right to health only if it demands too much from a cause of health; and in the latter, only if it demands nothing from a cause of health (that is, too little).

Comment: Useful in teaching on distributive justice in medicine or medical ethics in general. Can also be used as further reading in political and moral philosophy modules on human rights.

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