Rights Angles

[Amazon Link]

Back in the previous century, I bought, and read, a book plugged at Reason: Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community by Loren Lomasky, then at the Duluth campus of the University of Minnesota. It was a strong defense/explication of the underpinnings of classical liberalism and (so-called) "natural" individual human rights. Lomasky's insight was was that humans are project pursuers as part of their core natures; when the state proposes to override such (presumably peaceful) pursuits in order that the individual serve instead some collective goal, it violates some of the person's moral space. Which is wrong.

I was convinced. But the world, unfortunately, was not. (Lomasky, by the way, does not love the term "classical liberalism", with its connotation of old ideas fixed in amber; he'd prefer a term that reflects something more dynamic. He has a point, but "classical liberalism" seems to be the best label we have.)

Anyway, Persons, Rights, and the Moral Community was back when Reason, and I, were more concerned with political philosophy. This 2016 book, Rights Angles, is a collection of fifteen scholarly papers Lomasky published between 1983 and 2011 on various topics in political philosophy, still circling around the core of classical liberalism. There's also a leadoff new essay with an overview of the current state of affairs. It will run you a cool $43.99 at Amazon; fortunately, the University Near Here Library got a copy.

Speaking from my vantage point (strictly a philosophical dilettante, and even that may be an overestimate): The essays are of varying degrees of difficulty, depending on one's familiarity with the field. I'd recommend at least a nodding acquaintance with the major works of John Rawls (A Theory of Justice) and Robert Nozick (Anarchy, State, and Utopia. But even then, some I just bounced off. (But, honest, Professor Lomasky, I looked at every page.)

I learned a word: optimific. No, you go look it up. I had to.