The will theory of rights: A defence [Book Review]

Law and Philosophy 15 (3):257 - 270 (1996)
Hart's will theory of rights has been subjected to at least three significant criticisms. First, it is thought unable to account for the full range of legal rights. Second, it is incoherent, for it values freedom while permitting an agent the option of alienating his or her capacity for choice. Third, any attempt to remedy the first two problems renders the theory reducible to the rival benefit theory. My aim is to address these objections. I argue that will theory has been made vulnerable due to misinterpretation. The theory has been characterized as placing great stress on liberty rights (or claim-protected liberties), whereas it is powers that are central, and hence not choice but control. My argument does, however, depend upon appealing to an extra-legal notion — the hypothetical contract — but I argue that this is consistent with the main aim of a theory of rights.
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