Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Heather Demarest

Second Advisor

Dominic Bailey

Third Advisor

Samuel Boyd

Abstract

Rights-theory has been the primary conceptual impetus for social and legislative progress with respect to disability inclusion and accessibility in the United States. However, there is profound resistance to the use of rights-based appeals to combat the exclusion of people with disabilities from American religious groups. This opposition is especially prevalent in the largest religious demographic in the United States: Christians. A number of Christian philosophers and theologians resist talk of human rights because they believe that rights are excessively individualistic. Christian Philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff has argued against this view and offers a promising theistic account of rights. While Wolterstorff makes efforts to include people with disabilities in this account, this unfortunately leads to problems for his theory. In this paper, I highlight the main problem in Wolterstorff’s account—inconsistency between his rejection of divine command theory’s account of duties and the way he proposes his voluntarist account of rights—and then offer two solutions: a voluntarist and a non-voluntarist metaethical theory of rights/duties. Further, I show that both of these theories manage to avoid the Euthyphro dilemma by introducing a metaphysical constraint to God’s commands, will, and actions. Finally, I argue that this constraint unproblematic because it is compatible with divine omnipotence and divine free will.

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