The Language of Rights

Alasdair MacIntyre has argued that our contemporary discourse about “rights,” and “natural rights” or “human rights,” is alien to the thought of Aristotleand Aquinas. His worry, it seems, is that our contemporary language of rights is often taken to imply that individuals may possess certain entitlement-conferringproperties or powers (typically called “rights”) entirely in isolation from other individuals, and outside the context of any community or common good. In thispaper, I accept MacIntyre’s worries about our contemporary language of “rights”; however, I seek to show that some of our contemporary language or discourseabout “justice” and “rights” is not altogether misguided, but does—in fact—reflect a properly critical (Aristotelian-Thomistic) understanding of what is meant by“justice” and “rights.”
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DOI 10.5840/acpaproc2010849
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