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Conflicts Among Rights
  1. Danny Frederick (forthcoming). Pro-Tanto Versus Absolute Rights. Philosophical Forum.
    Judith Jarvis Thomson and others contend that rights are pro-tanto rather than absolute, that is, that rights may permissibly be infringed in some circumstances. Alan Gewirth maintains that there are some rights that are absolute because infringing them would amount to unspeakable evil. However, there seem to be possible circumstances in which it would be permissible to infringe even those rights. Specificationists, such as Gerald Gaus, Russ Shafer-Landau, Hillel Steiner and Kit Wellman, argue that all rights are absolute because they (...)
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  2. Marguerite la Caze (2007). At the Intersection: Kant, Derrida, and the Relations Between Ethics and Politics. Political Theory 35 (5):781-805.
    To elucidate the tensions in the relation between ethics and politics, I construct a dialogue between Kant, who argues that they can be made compatible, and Derrida, who claims to go beyond Kant and his idea of duty. For Derrida, ethics makes unconditional demands and politics guides our responses to possible effects of our decisions. Derrida argues that in politics there must be a negotiation of the non-negotiable call of ethical responsibility. I argue that Derrida's unconditional ethics cannot be read (...)
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  3. Lawrence Lengbeyer (2005). Altering Artworks: Creators' Moral Rights Vs. The Public Good. Philosophy in the Contemporary World 12 (2):53-61.
    The grounds for recognizing that artists possess a personal “moral right of integrity” that would entitle them to prevent others from modifying their works are weak. There is, however, an important (and legislation-worthy) public interest in protecting highly-valued entities, including at least some works of art, from permanently destructive transformations.
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  4. Annabelle Lever (forthcoming). Must Privacy and Sexual Equality Conflict? A Philosophical Examination of Some Legal Evidence. Social Research.
  5. Annabelle Lever (2013). Democracy and Security. The Philosophers' Magazine 63 (4):99-110.
    It is especially hard, at present, to read the newspapers without emitting a howl of anguish and outrage. Philosophy can heal some wounds but, in this case, political action may prove a better remedy than philosophy. It can therefore feel odd trying to think philosophically about surveillance at a time like this, rather than joining with like-minded people to protest the erosion of our civil liberties, the duplicity of our governments, and the failings in our political institutions - including our (...)
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  6. Annabelle Lever (2012). New Frontiers in the Philosophy of Intellectual Property. Cambridge University Press.
    The new frontiers in the philosophy of intellectual property lie squarely in territories belonging to moral and political philosophy, as well as legal philosophy and philosophy of economics – or so this collection suggests. Those who wish to understand the nature and justification of intellectual property may now find themselves immersed in philosophical debates on the structure and relative merits of consequentialist and deontological moral theories, or disputes about the nature and value of privacy, or the relationship between national and (...)
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  7. Annabelle Lever (2010). 'Democracy and Voting: A Response to Lisa Hill'. British Journal of Political Science 40:925-929.
    Lisa Hill’s response to my critique of compulsory voting, like similar responses in print or in discussion, remind me how much a child of the ‘70s I am, and how far my beliefs and intuitions about politics have been shaped by the electoral conflicts, social movements and violence of that period. -/- But my perceptions of politics have also been profoundly shaped by my teachers, and fellow graduate students, at MIT. Theda Skocpol famously urged political scientists to ‘bring the state (...)
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  8. Annabelle Lever (2009). Is Compulsory Voting Justified? Public Reason 1 (1):57-74.
  9. Annabelle Lever (2008). Mrs. Aremac and the Camera: A Response to Ryberg. Res Publica 14 (1):35-42.
    In a recent article in Respublica, Jesper Ryberg argues that CCTV can be compared to a little old lady gazing out onto the street below. This article takes issue with the claim that government surveillance can be justified in this manner. Governments have powers and responsibilities that little old ladies lack. Even if CCTV is effective at preventing crime, there may be less intrusive ways of doing so. People have a variety of legitimate interests in privacy, and protection for these (...)
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  10. Annabelle Lever (2007). What's Wrong with Racial Profiling? Another Look at the Problem. Criminal Justice Ethics 26 (1):20-28.
    According to Mathias Risse and Richard Zeckhauser, racial profiling can be justified in a society, such as the contemporary United States, where the legacy of slavery and segregation is found in lesser but, nonetheless, troubling forms of racial inequality. Racial profiling, Risse and Zeckhauser recognize, is often marked by police abuse and the harassment of racial minorities and by the disproportionate use of race in profiling. These, on their view, are unjustified. But, they contend, this does not mean that all (...)
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  11. Annabelle Lever (2006). Privacy Rights and Democracy: A Contradiction in Terms? Contemporary Political Theory 5 (2):142.
    This article argues that people have legitimate interests in privacy that deserve legal protection on democratic principles. It describes the right to privacy as a bundle of rights of personal choice, association and expression and shows that, so described, people have legitimate political interests in privacy. These interests reflect the ways that privacy rights can supplement the protection for people’s freedom and equality provided by rights of political choice, association and expression, and can help to make sure that these are, (...)
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  12. Annabelle Lever (2005). Why Racial Profiling is Hard to Justify: A Response to Risse and Zeckhauser. Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (1):94–110.
    In their article, “Racial Profiling,” Risse and Zeckhauser offer a qualified defense of racial profiling in a racist society, such as the contemporary United States of America. It is a qualified defense, because they wish to distinguish racial profiling as it is, and as it might be, and to argue that while the former is not justified, the latter might be. Racial profiling as it is, they recognize, is marked by police abuse and the harassment of racial minorities, and by (...)
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  13. Annabelle Lever (2000). The Politics of Paradox: A Response to Wendy Brown. Constellations 7 (2):242-254.
    What role should rights play in feminist politics and the quest for equality? This article examines Wendy Brown's response to that question in her 'suffering rights as paradoxes' and shows that for all its merits, it draws our attention away from the central question of how to describe women's interests, given the many differences amongst women.
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  14. Annabelle Lever, Ethics and the Patenting of Human Genes.
    Human gene patents are patents on human genes that have been removed from human bodies and scientifically isolated and manipulated in a laboratory. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the USPTO) has issued thousands of patents on such genes, and patents have also been granted by the European Patent Office, (the EPO). Legal and moral justification, however, are not identical, and it is possible for a legal decision to be immoral although consistent with legal precedent and procedure. So, it is (...)
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  15. Annabelle Lever, Is Judicial Review Undemocratic?
    This paper examines Jeremy Waldron’s ‘core case’ against judicial review. Waldron’s arguments, it shows, exaggerate the importance of voting to our judgements about the legitimacy and democratic credentials of a society and its government. Moreover, Waldron is insufficiently sensitive to the ways that judicial review can provide a legitimate avenue of political activity for those seeking to rectify historic injustice. While judicial review is not necessary for democratic government, the paper concludes that Waldron is wrong to believe that it is (...)
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  16. Robert S. Taylor (2012). Hate Speech, the Priority of Liberty, and the Temptations of Nonideal Theory. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3):353-68.
    Are government restrictions on hate speech consistent with the priority of liberty? This relatively narrow policy question will serve as the starting point for a wider discussion of the use and abuse of nonideal theory in contemporary political philosophy, especially as practiced on the academic left. I begin by showing that hate speech (understood as group libel) can undermine fair equality of opportunity for historically-oppressed groups but that the priority of liberty seems to forbid its restriction. This tension between free (...)
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Criticisms of Rights
  1. Adam D. Bailey (2011). Confucianism-Based Rights Skepticism and Rights in the Workplace. Business Ethics Quarterly 21 (4):661-672.
    Must even Confucian rights skeptics—those who are, on account of their Confucian beliefs, skeptical of the existence of human rights, and believe that asserting or recognizing rights is morally wrong—concede that in the workplace, they are morally obligated to recognize rights? Alan Strudler has recently argued that such is the case. In this article, I argue that because Confucian rights skeptics locate wrongness in inconsistency with the idea of “Confucian community,” Confucian community should be viewed as a moral ideal. I (...)
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  2. Adam D. Bailey & Alan Strudler (2011). Dialogue. Business Ethics Quarterly 21 (4):661-677.
    Confucianism-Based Rights Skepticism and Rights in the Workplace by Adam D. Bailey - Must even Confucian rights skeptics—those who are, on account of their Confucian beliefs, skeptical of the existence of human rights, and believe that asserting or recognizing rights is morally wrong—concede that in the workplace, they are morally obligated to recognize rights? Alan Strudler has recently argued that such is the case. In this article, I argue that because Confucian rights skeptics locate wrongness in inconsistency with the idea (...)
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  3. Adam D. Bailey & Alan Strudler (2011). Dialogue - The Confucian Critique of Rights-Based Business Ethics. Business Ethics Quarterly 21 (4):661-677.
    Confucianism-Based Rights Skepticism and Rights in the Workplace by Adam D. Bailey - Must even Confucian rights skeptics—those who are, on account of their Confucian beliefs, skeptical of the existence of human rights, and believe that asserting or recognizing rights is morally wrong—concede that in the workplace, they are morally obligated to recognize rights? Alan Strudler has recently argued that such is the case. In this article, I argue that because Confucian rights skeptics locate wrongness in inconsistency with the idea (...)
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  4. Sonu Bedi (2009). Rejecting Rights. Cambridge University Press.
    Rights -- Justification in theory -- Justification in practice.
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  5. Adam Etinson (2013). Human Rights, Claimability and the Uses of Abstraction. Utilitas 25 (4):463-486.
    This article addresses the so-called to human rights. Focusing specifically on the work of Onora O'Neill, the article challenges two important aspects of her version of this objection. First: its narrowness. O'Neill understands the claimability of a right to depend on the identification of its duty-bearers. But there is good reason to think that the claimability of a right depends on more than just that, which makes abstract (and not welfare) rights the most natural target of her objection (section II). (...)
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  6. Annabelle Lever (forthcoming). Must Privacy and Sexual Equality Conflict? A Philosophical Examination of Some Legal Evidence. Social Research.
  7. Justin Tiwald (2013). Confucian Rights as a "Fallback Apparatus” 作为“备用机制”的儒家权利. Academic Monthly 学术月刊 45 (11):41-49.
    Liang Tao and Kuang Zhao, trans. Confucian rights can be characterized as a kind of “fallback apparatus,” necessary only when preferred mechanisms—for example, familial and neighborly care or traditional courtesies—would otherwise fail to protect basic human interests. In this paper, I argue that the very existence of such rights is contingent on their ability to function as remedies for dysfunctional social relationships or failures to develop the virtues that sustain harmonious Confucian relationships. Moreover, these remedies are not, strictly speaking, rights-based, (...)
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  8. Justin Tiwald (2011). Confucianism and Human Rights. In Thomas Cushman (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Human Rights. Routledge. 244.
    One of the most high-profile debates in Chinese philosophy concerns the compatibility of human and individual rights with basic Confucian doctrines and practices. Defenders of the incompatibilist view argue that rights are inconsistent with Confucianism because rights are (necessarily) role-independent obligations and entitlements, whereas Confucians think that all obligations and entitlements are role-dependent. Two other arguments have to do with the practice of claiming one's own rights, holding (a) that claiming one's rights undercuts family-like community bonds and (b) that giving (...)
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Rights and Equality
  1. Annabelle Lever (2012). 'Privacy, Private Property and Collective Property'. The Good Society 21 (1):47-60.
    This article is part of a symposium on property-owning democracy. In A Theory of Justice John Rawls argued that people in a just society would have rights to some forms of personal property, whatever the best way to organise the economy. Without being explicit about it, he also seems to have believed that protection for at least some forms of privacy are included in the Basic Liberties, to which all are entitled. Thus, Rawls assumes that people are entitled to form (...)
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  2. Annabelle Lever (2010). 'Democracy and Voting: A Response to Lisa Hill'. British Journal of Political Science 40:925-929.
    Lisa Hill’s response to my critique of compulsory voting, like similar responses in print or in discussion, remind me how much a child of the ‘70s I am, and how far my beliefs and intuitions about politics have been shaped by the electoral conflicts, social movements and violence of that period. -/- But my perceptions of politics have also been profoundly shaped by my teachers, and fellow graduate students, at MIT. Theda Skocpol famously urged political scientists to ‘bring the state (...)
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  3. Annabelle Lever (2009). Is Compulsory Voting Justified? Public Reason 1 (1):57-74.
  4. Annabelle Lever (2005). Why Racial Profiling is Hard to Justify: A Response to Risse and Zeckhauser. Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (1):94–110.
    In their article, “Racial Profiling,” Risse and Zeckhauser offer a qualified defense of racial profiling in a racist society, such as the contemporary United States of America. It is a qualified defense, because they wish to distinguish racial profiling as it is, and as it might be, and to argue that while the former is not justified, the latter might be. Racial profiling as it is, they recognize, is marked by police abuse and the harassment of racial minorities, and by (...)
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  5. Annabelle Lever (2000). The Politics of Paradox: A Response to Wendy Brown. Constellations 7 (2):242-254.
    What role should rights play in feminist politics and the quest for equality? This article examines Wendy Brown's response to that question in her 'suffering rights as paradoxes' and shows that for all its merits, it draws our attention away from the central question of how to describe women's interests, given the many differences amongst women.
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  6. Annabelle Lever, Compulsory Voting: A Critical Perspective.
    Should voting be compulsory? This question has recently gained the attention of political scientists, politicians and philosophers, many of whom believe that countries, like Britain, which have never had compulsion, ought to adopt it. The arguments are a mixture of principle and political calculation, reflecting the idea that compulsory voting is morally right and that it is will prove beneficial. This article casts a sceptical eye on the claims, by emphasizing how complex political morality and strategy can be. Hence, I (...)
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  7. Annabelle Lever, Is Judicial Review Undemocratic?
    This paper examines Jeremy Waldron’s ‘core case’ against judicial review. Waldron’s arguments, it shows, exaggerate the importance of voting to our judgements about the legitimacy and democratic credentials of a society and its government. Moreover, Waldron is insufficiently sensitive to the ways that judicial review can provide a legitimate avenue of political activity for those seeking to rectify historic injustice. While judicial review is not necessary for democratic government, the paper concludes that Waldron is wrong to believe that it is (...)
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  8. Justin Tiwald (2011). Confucianism and Human Rights. In Thomas Cushman (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Human Rights. Routledge. 244.
    One of the most high-profile debates in Chinese philosophy concerns the compatibility of human and individual rights with basic Confucian doctrines and practices. Defenders of the incompatibilist view argue that rights are inconsistent with Confucianism because rights are (necessarily) role-independent obligations and entitlements, whereas Confucians think that all obligations and entitlements are role-dependent. Two other arguments have to do with the practice of claiming one's own rights, holding (a) that claiming one's rights undercuts family-like community bonds and (b) that giving (...)
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Rights and Freedom
  1. Hugh Breakey (2011). Property, Persons, Boundaries: The Argument From Other-Ownership. Social Theory and Practice 37 (2):189-210.
    A question of interpersonal sovereignty dating back to the early modern era has resurfaced in contemporary political philosophy: viz. Should one individual have, prior to any consent, property rights in another person? Libertarians answer that they should not – and that this commitment requires us to reject all positive duties. Liberal-egalitarians largely agree with the libertarian’s answer to the question, but deny the corollary they draw from it, arguing instead that egalitarian regimes do not require other-ownership. Drawing on recent property (...)
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  2. Ori J. Herstein (2012). Defending the Right To Do Wrong. Law and Philosophy 31 (3):343-365.
    Are there moral rights to do moral wrong? A right to do wrong is a right that others not interfere with the right-holder’s wrongdoing. It is a right against enforcement of duty, that is a right that others not interfere with one’s violation of one’s own obligations. The strongest reason for moral rights to do moral wrong is grounded in the value of personal autonomy. Having a measure of protected choice (that is a right) to do wrong is a condition (...)
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  3. Annabelle Lever (2012). 'Privacy, Private Property and Collective Property'. The Good Society 21 (1):47-60.
    This article is part of a symposium on property-owning democracy. In A Theory of Justice John Rawls argued that people in a just society would have rights to some forms of personal property, whatever the best way to organise the economy. Without being explicit about it, he also seems to have believed that protection for at least some forms of privacy are included in the Basic Liberties, to which all are entitled. Thus, Rawls assumes that people are entitled to form (...)
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  4. Annabelle Lever (2010). 'Democracy and Voting: A Response to Lisa Hill'. British Journal of Political Science 40:925-929.
    Lisa Hill’s response to my critique of compulsory voting, like similar responses in print or in discussion, remind me how much a child of the ‘70s I am, and how far my beliefs and intuitions about politics have been shaped by the electoral conflicts, social movements and violence of that period. -/- But my perceptions of politics have also been profoundly shaped by my teachers, and fellow graduate students, at MIT. Theda Skocpol famously urged political scientists to ‘bring the state (...)
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  5. Annabelle Lever (2009). Is Compulsory Voting Justified? Public Reason 1 (1):57-74.
  6. Annabelle Lever, 'A Liberal Defence of Compulsory Voting': Some Reasons for Scepticism.
    Liberal egalitarians such as Rawls and Dworkin, insist that a just society must try to make sure that socio-economic inequalities do not undercut the value of the vote, and of other political liberties. They insist on this not just for instrumental reasons, but because they assume that democratic forms of political participation can be desirable ends in themselves. However, compulsory voting laws seem to conflict with respect for reasonable differences of belief and value, essential to liberal egalitarians. Nor is it (...)
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  7. Annabelle Lever, Compulsory Voting: A Critical Perspective.
    Should voting be compulsory? This question has recently gained the attention of political scientists, politicians and philosophers, many of whom believe that countries, like Britain, which have never had compulsion, ought to adopt it. The arguments are a mixture of principle and political calculation, reflecting the idea that compulsory voting is morally right and that it is will prove beneficial. This article casts a sceptical eye on the claims, by emphasizing how complex political morality and strategy can be. Hence, I (...)
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  8. Annabelle Lever, Ethics and the Patenting of Human Genes.
    Human gene patents are patents on human genes that have been removed from human bodies and scientifically isolated and manipulated in a laboratory. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the USPTO) has issued thousands of patents on such genes, and patents have also been granted by the European Patent Office, (the EPO). Legal and moral justification, however, are not identical, and it is possible for a legal decision to be immoral although consistent with legal precedent and procedure. So, it is (...)
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  9. Annabelle Lever, Is Judicial Review Undemocratic?
    This paper examines Jeremy Waldron’s ‘core case’ against judicial review. Waldron’s arguments, it shows, exaggerate the importance of voting to our judgements about the legitimacy and democratic credentials of a society and its government. Moreover, Waldron is insufficiently sensitive to the ways that judicial review can provide a legitimate avenue of political activity for those seeking to rectify historic injustice. While judicial review is not necessary for democratic government, the paper concludes that Waldron is wrong to believe that it is (...)
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Rights and Justice
  1. Brian Barry (1996). Justice as Impartiality: A Treatise on Social Justice, Volume II. Clarendon Press.
    Almost every country today contains adherents of different religions and different secular conceptions of the good life. Is there any alternative to a power struggle among them, leading most probably to either civil war or oppression? The argument of this book is that justice as impartiality offers a solution. -/- According to the theory of justice as impartiality, principles of justice are those principles that provide a reasonable basis for the unforced assent of those subject to them. The object of (...)
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  2. Rainer Bauböck (2007). The Rights of Others and the Boundaries of Democracy. European Journal of Political Theory 6 (4):398-405.
    Benhabib argues that the tension between universal human rights and democratic self-determination cannot be resolved. Distinguishing between the principle of rights, on the one hand, and context-specific `schedules of rights', on the other hand, helps, however, to specify the scope of both norms. I show that applying this idea to questions of citizenship requires further elaboration in three respects: (1) Benhabib's argument for porous rather than open borders, which does not fully address the challenge of global distributive justice; (2) norms (...)
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  3. Alexander Brown (2007). An Egalitarian Plateau? Challenging the Importance of Ronald Dworkin's Abstract Egalitarian Rights. Res Publica 13 (3):255-291.
    Ronald Dworkin’s work on the topic of equality over the past twenty-five years or so has been enormously influential, generating a great deal of debate about equality both as a practical aim and as a theoretical ideal. The present article attempts to assess the importance of one particular aspect of this work. Dworkin claims that the acceptance of abstract egalitarian rights to equal concern and respect can be thought to provide a kind of plateau in political argument, accommodating as it (...)
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  4. Danny Frederick (forthcoming). Pro-Tanto Versus Absolute Rights. Philosophical Forum.
    Judith Jarvis Thomson and others contend that rights are pro-tanto rather than absolute, that is, that rights may permissibly be infringed in some circumstances. Alan Gewirth maintains that there are some rights that are absolute because infringing them would amount to unspeakable evil. However, there seem to be possible circumstances in which it would be permissible to infringe even those rights. Specificationists, such as Gerald Gaus, Russ Shafer-Landau, Hillel Steiner and Kit Wellman, argue that all rights are absolute because they (...)
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Rights and Democracy
  1. Robert Alexy (1994). Basic Rights and Democracy in Jurgen Habermas's Procedural Paradigm of the Law. Ratio Juris 7 (2):227-238.
  2. Andrew Altman & Christopher Heath Wellman (2008). The Deontological Defense of Democracy: An Argument From Group Rights. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (3):279-293.
    Abstract: Democracy is regularly heralded as the only form of government that treats political subjects as free and equal citizens. On closer examination, however, it becomes apparent that democracy unavoidably restricts individual freedom, and it is not the only way to treat all citizens equally. In light of these observations, we argue that the non-instrumental reasons to support democratic governance stem, not from considerations of individual freedom or equality, but instead from the importance of respecting group self-determination. If this is (...)
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