Rights without dignity? Some critical reflections on Habermas's procedural model of law and democracy

Philosophy and Social Criticism 27 (3):21-40 (2001)
I argue that Habermas’s proposed system of rights fails to offer an adequate account of the relation between rights and moral injury. In providing a non-moral justification for rights, Habermas’s functional-normative argument excludes the moral intuition that persons are worthy of being protected from a class of injurious actions . Habermas does offer clearly stated reasons for his proposed normative, yet non-moral foundation for a legitimate legal order, including the claim that the functional imperatives of modern legal systems cannot be reduced to morality. My positive thesis is that at least some rights are moral norms whose content and justification derive from a moral point of view informed by the idea of persons as free and equal
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