The Moral Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights
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The Moral Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights explores the various aspects of IPRs in which moral evaluation and claims play a role. According to R M Hare, moral concepts and reasoning are characterized by the universalization of prescriptions. Universalization links the various dimensions in a way that rationally forces us to revise the moral basis of the various claims we make for, about and of IPRs, and ultimately provides grounds for their reform. The method of reflective equilibrium is focused in the first place on Hare’s meta- ethics, to derive a reformulation which is herein called fundamental prescriptivism. This requires a foundational set of moral principles to work. Our expectation that moral principles and values must serve to guide us, and resolve conflict between us, with objective rational force, provides the basis for adopting such a set of fundamental prescriptions. These sum up in the equal right to freedom and well- being as the ultimate basis for moral evaluation of our institutions. An implication of this right is that property in IPR systems must be balanced with participation rights (moral and legal) of the public to a public domain which allows individuals to have access to, and use, objects of intellectual property. When, in seeking reflective equilibrium, this is applied to the various aspects of IPRs, the result is an exploration of the inter-connectedness of following: justification of IPRs based on this equal right to freedom and well-being; explanation of the function of, and justification for, the presence of moral concepts and terms in national and international IPR rules; the commitments implied by use of these moral ideas for our obligations in respect of the way we enjoy, exploit and enforce our IPRs, and, ultimately, our duty to reform of IPRs in ways that respects the participation rights implied by this principle.
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