Lost in moral space: On the infringing/violating distinction and its place in the theory of rights [Book Review]

Law and Philosophy 23 (4):325 - 346 (2004)
Abstract
The infringing/violating distinction, first drawn by Judith Jarvis Thomson, is central to much contemporary rights theory. According to Thomson, conduct that is in some sense opposed to a right infringes it, while conduct that is also wrong violates the right. This distinction finds a home what I call, borrowing Robert Nozick's parlance, a "moral space" conception of rights, for the infringing/violating distinction presupposes that, as Nozick puts it, "a line (or hyper-plane) circumscribes an area in moral space around an individual." In this paper, I argue against the moral space conception of rights, and more specifically, against incorporating the infringing/violating distinction into a theory of rights. There are other compelling ways to think about rights and it is my goal to stimulate their exploration.
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