Welfare rights and conflicts of rights

Res Publica 12 (4):337-356 (2006)
The fact that welfare rights – rights to food, shelter and medical care – will conflict with one another is often taken to be good reason to exclude welfare rights from the catalogue of genuine rights. Rather than respond to this objection by pointing out that all rights conflict, welfare rights proponents need to take the conflicts objection seriously. The existence of potentially conflicting and more weighty normative considerations counts against a claim’s status as a genuine right. To think otherwise would be to threaten the peremptory force – and hence the analytical integrity – of rights. The conflicts objection is made more pressing once we have conceded that welfare rights give people entitlements to what are potentially scarce goods. I argue that welfare rights can survive the conflicts objection if, and only if, we take scarcity into account in the framing of a given welfare right.
Keywords constitutional rights  human rights  resource allocation  social rights  scarcity
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DOI 10.1007/s11158-006-9022-7
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Siegfried van Duffel (2013). Natural Rights to Welfare. European Journal of Philosophy 21 (4):641-664.

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