The Moral Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights
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The Moral Dimensions of Intellectual Property Rights

Steven Ang

This highly original and exploratory book analyses the role morality plays in Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). Steven Ang builds his idea that the justification for IPRs is bound up with a simultaneous duty to share part of that intellectual resource through public rights of access and a public domain which is facilitated by the moral elements in the various dimensions of IPR. In a globalized world with globalizing IPRs where culturally assumed norms must be re-examined, this work has an urgent and important contribution to make because it takes the main features of internationally mandated IPRs as a starting point and explores the moral commitments they imply and rely on, to identify a framework for further development and reform of IP regimes.
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Chapter 9: Conclusions on the moral dimensions of IPRs

Steven Ang


This work began by noting the presence of moral terms and concepts in some of the central and most critical rules of IP laws and exploring the riddles they pose (§1.1). It asked the questions: What do they mean? How do they get their meaning? And: What do they do in such systems? It noted several aspects of such institutions (dimensions) in which moral concepts and reasoning play a role, and asked: How are these inter-related? The central thesis of the work suggests that the idea of universal prescriptivism – developed by the moral philosopher R.M. Hare – as a core characteristic of what is moral in moral precepts and principles may provide a key to answering these questions. This idea was examined, critiqued and further developed in Chapter 2 to arrive at fundamental prescriptions as the basis of moral reasoning which sum up in the equal right to freedom and well-being (§2.4.7). This principle essentially restates Gewirth’s Principle of Generic Consistency in a new way to highlight the way moral terms work and the importance of the desire of participants in moral discourse to make claims that treat moral norms as having objective rational force (§2.5.1). It was also argued that the principle be identified as the prescriptive ground of the actual choices and commitments we have made as a global society through the idea of human rights as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (§2.5.3).

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