Moral Security

Journal of Political Philosophy 25 (2):238-255 (2017)
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In this paper, I argue that an account of security as a basic human right must incorporate moral security. Broadly speaking, a person possesses subjective moral security when she believes that her basic interests and welfare will be accorded moral recognition by others in her community and by social, political, and legal institutions in her society. She possesses objective moral security if, as a matter of fact, her interests and welfare are regarded by her society as morally important—for example, when violent crimes against her being taken to warrant the same punishment and condemnation as equivalent crimes against others. Moral security, thus characterized, is an essential part of what it is to be secure as a human person, and any right to security must include it. In the first part of the paper I critique alternative narrower accounts of the right to security, before defending my account of moral security in Section 2. Section 3 explores how acts of racialized and gendered violence are attacks on the moral security of the victims and of all members of the groups to which the victims belong. Broader structural and institutional forms of racial and sexual discrimination further compound the impact of such acts on moral security. Understanding how racial and sexual discrimination and violence are attacks on moral security offers a new way of thinking about the scope and urgency of a state’s duty to combat racial and sexual discrimination, an issue I explore in the final section of the paper.
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