The Philosophy of Rights
DOI link for The Philosophy of Rights
The Philosophy of Rights book
Moral and political philosophers use the concept of a right to do two quite different sorts of things. Like everyone else who is interested in the law, they use it to describe certain types of legal arrangement: situations in which the law of the land provides a person with some liberty, opportunity or benefit. But they also use the concept of rights to express certain moral claims: these include claims about the legal rights that people morally ought to have; ethical claims about the way people ought to treat and deal with one another; and abstract claims about the fundamental principles of social and political organisation. Though it is important to keep these moral and legal uses apart, it is also necessary to recognise that a lot of what is said about moral rights is modelled on what jurists have said about legal rights. Accordingly, the first section of this chapter will explore the role of rights in the law, while the sections that follow will consider their wider use in moral and political philosophy.