[W]e can appeal to rights when moral matters have been settled. In other words, our appeals to rights may serve as shields, protecting our moral progress from the threats that remain. Likewise, there are times when it makes sense to use “rights” as weapons, as rhetorical tools for making moral progress when arguments have failed.
Joshua Greene, Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them, New York, 2013, p. 308
One way to see the unacceptability of welfare-independent rights is to ask the question ‘why Right X?’ to a very ultimate level. If the answer is ‘Right X because Y’, then one should ask ‘Why Y?’ For example, if the answer to ‘why free speech?’ is that people enjoy free speech, it is already not welfare-independent. If the answer is free speech deters dictatorship’, then we should ask, ‘Why is it desirable to deter dictatorship?’ If one presses hard enough with such questions, most people will eventually come up with a welfare-related answer.
Yew-Kwang Ng, ‘Welfarism and Utilitarianism: A Rehabilitation’, Utilitas, vol. 2, no. 2 (November, 1990), p. 180