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Personal Sovereignty and Our Moral Rights to Non‐Interference

Journal of Applied Philosophy

Published online on


In this article, I defend the inviolability approach to solving the paradox of deontology against a criticism raised by Michael Otsuka. The paradox of deontology revolves around the question whether it should always be permissible to infringe someone's right to non‐interference when this would serve to minimize the overall number of comparable rights infringements that occur. According to the inviolability approach, rights to non‐interference protect and give expression to our personal sovereignty, which is not advanced through the minimization of rights infringements. This seems to dissolve the paradox. Otsuka, however, contends that the proposed solution relies on too narrow an understanding of personal sovereignty. He argues that there is an enforceability dimension to personal sovereignty that would seem to undermine the inviolability approach. While I agree with Otsuka that enforceability is an important aspect of personal sovereignty, I argue that properly construed, the enforceability dimension of personal sovereignty does not undermine the inviolability approach.