Episode 2 – My Rights

Interviewees John Tasioulas, Christian Barry and Peter Singer unpack the rights of an individual and explore intended and unintended consequences.

Teacher Notes

Content overview

This episode focusses on non-consequentialist ethics through an exploration of the concepts of rights (duties) and obligations. It considers whether strict consequentialism will lead us to an ethical framework which is too abstract from the individual ethical agents (people) involved, and the role of motivations as a factor in our ethical judgements. It also critiques the concept of human rights, questioning how far these rights extend and how we can differentiate between a fundamental right and an interest.

Links to Ethical Capability

• Explore the contested meaning of concepts including freedom, justice, and rights and responsibilities, and the extent they are and should be valued by different individuals and groups (VCECU014)
• Explore the extent of ethical obligation and the implications for thinking about consequences and duties in decision-making and action (VCECD017)
• Discuss issues raised by thinking about consequences and duties, in approaches to decision-making and action, and arguments for and against these approaches (VCECD022)

Complementary curricula

Personal and Social Capability
VCE Global Politics
VCE Legal Studies (Unit 2&3)

HSC Legal Studies
HSC Society and Culture

Questions and discussion points

  1. Is an act which means well, but causes harm, just as ethically wrong as an act which causes harm deliberately?
  2. Should we make ethical judgements in the same way we would make a scientific or mathematical judgement, as an objective calculation?
  3. Are there any fundamental human rights, and if there are, how do we distinguish these rights from other human interests? Where do we draw the line?