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By R. George Wright

Reflect on the horror we believe after we research of a criminal offense corresponding to that dedicated by way of Robert Alton Harris, who commandeered a motor vehicle, killed the 2 teenage boys in it, after which accomplished what used to be left in their lunch. What we do not reflect on in our response to the depravity of this act is that, even if we morally blame him or no longer, Robert Alton Harris has led a existence nearly unimaginably diverse from our personal in the most important respects. In Does legislation Morally Bind the bad? or What Good's the structure in the event you cannot purchase a Loaf of Bread?, writer R. George Wright argues that whereas the negative dwell within the related global because the remainder of us, their global is crucially diversified. The legislation doesn't realize this distinction, even though, and proves to be inconsistent by way of excusing the trespasses of folks fleeing unforeseen storms, yet now not these of the involuntarily homeless. He persuasively concludes that we will be able to reject crude environmental determinism with out conserving the main disadvantaged to unreasonable criteria.

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Extra resources for Does the law morally bind the poor? or, What good's the Constitution when you can't afford a loaf of bread?

Sample text

But on the other hand, why should the poor reasonably endorse our current Constitution if, by assumption, that Constitution is misguided insofar as it focuses on any sorts of rights? We have also assumed that the poor, along with everyone else, will decide whether to consent to the Constitution based largely on their own most crucial interests, individually or collectively, over some reasonable time frame, perhaps in conjunction with other basic values. It is difficult to see how some such assumption could be avoid- Page 16 ed by a consent theory.

To not be defrauded or assaulted by some private actor would also typically be thought of as negative rights. These examples suggest that at least in some cases, positive rights tend to be more publicly expensive or more difficult to fulfill than Page 10 negative rights. In addition, given some arbitrary historical baseline or some assumed status quo, positive rights may redistribute wealth more than negative rights. Positive rights may seem to require more affirmative or active government intervention than do negative rights, at least from the perspective of the chosen historical baseline.

The chapter concludes by briefly reflecting on the moral limits that may still legitimately bind those persons not genuinely morally bound by the Constitution. In the American constitutional tradition, the most natural explanation of why the abject poor, or indeed anyone else, should be held bound by the Constitution relies on consent or social contract. The courts have commonly referred to at least some such understanding, and the framers are commonly thought to have done so as well. The idea of a social contract has been interpreted in a number of ways.

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