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Profile: Siegfried van Duffel (University of Helsinki)
  1. Siegfried Van Duffel, Getting Rights Right.
    In the first part of the paper, van Duffel argues, persuasively, why rights cannot be based (as some libertarians have tried to base them) on the notion of freedom. These arguments are not original; Friedman2 and Cohen3, among others, have articulated them at length. The obvious problem is that rights, while they enhance the freedom of their holders, restrict the freedom of others. Thus, if I own an automobile, then my freedom is arguably increased by the unrestricted use my property (...)
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  2. Siegfried van Duffel, The Nature of Rights.
    The debate between the 'Will Theory' and the 'Interest Theory' of rights is actually a debate over stipulative definitions. I argue how this could have happened, and suggest how we might proceed building a theory of rights.
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  3. Siegfried van Duffel (2013). Natural Rights to Welfare. European Journal of Philosophy 21 (4):641-664.
    : Many people have lamented the proliferation of human rights claims. The cure for this problem, it may be thought, would be to develop a theory that can distinguish ‘real’ from ‘supposed’ human rights. I argue, however, that the proliferation of human rights mirrors a deep problem in human rights theory itself. Contemporary theories of natural rights to welfare are historical descendants from a theory of rights to subsistence which was developed in twelfth-century Europe. According to this theory, each human (...)
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  4. Siegfried Van Duffel (2012). In Defence of the Will Theory of Rights. Res Publica 18 (4):321-331.
    Nicholas Vrousalis has aimed to recast an old objection to the will theory of rights by focusing on Hillel Steiner’s version of that theory. He has argued that Will Theory must either be insensitive to the (values of the) lives of the unempowerable, or be incomplete, because it has no argumentative resources within its conceptual apparatus to ascribe or justify restrictions on the amount of discretion exercised by legal officials. I show that both charges are problematic. They rely on some (...)
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  5. Siegfried Van Duffel (2012). The Nature of Rights Debate Rests on a Mistake. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (1):104-123.
    The recent debate over the nature of rights has been dominated by two rival theories of rights. Proponents of the Will Theory of rights hold that individual freedom, autonomy, control, or sovereignty are somehow to be fundamental to the concept of a right, while proponents of the Interest Theory argue that rights rather protect people's welfare. Participants in this debate commonly assume the existence of a single ‘concept’ of which both theories provide competing descriptions. The aim of this article is (...)
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  6. Siegfried Van Duffel & Dennis Yap (2011). Distributive Justice Before the Eighteenth Century: The Right of Necessity. History of Political Thought 32 (3):449-464.
    Until recently, few people would have doubted that the idea of distributive justice is old, indeed ancient. Several authors have now challenged this assumption. Most prominently, Samuel Fleischacker argued that distributive justice originates in the eighteenth century. If accurate, this would upset much of what we have taken for granted about an important part of the history of Western political thought. However, the thesis is manifestly flawed; and since it has already proven influential, it is important to set the record (...)
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  7. Siegfried van Duffel (2010). From Objective Right to Subjective Rights: The Franciscans and the Interest and Will Conceptions of Rights. In Virpi Mäkinen (ed.), The Nature of Rights: Moral and Political Aspects of Rights in Late Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy. The Philosophical Society of Finland.
  8. Siegfried van Duffel (2009). The Dependence of Libertarianism On. Critical Review 21 (1):117-124.
    G. E. Morton’s attempt to defend libertarianism against my claim that it relies on an implausible secularization of ideas of divine sovereignty fails. It is not true that morality itself entails human sovereignty, as witnessed by the moral theories of theological voluntarists and of consequentialists. Nor is it true that sovereignty can be conceptually transferred from God to equal human individuals, since they would have no legitimate way to legislate over each other short of a unanimous “general will.” Nor, finally, (...)
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  9. Siegfried Van Duffel (2009). The Dependence of Libertarianism on the Notion of Sovereignty: Rejoinder to Morton. Critical Review 21 (1):117-124.
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  10. Siegfried Van Duffel (2008). The Dependence of Libertarianism on the Notion of Sovereignty. Critical Review 20 (3-4).
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  11. Siegfried van Duffel (2007). Een kritische inleiding tot libertarisme. Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Wijsbegeerte 99 (1).
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  12. Siegfried Van Duffel (2007). Sovereignty as a Religious Concept. The Monist 90 (1):126-143.
    Contemporary scholars writing on sovereignty can be roughly divided between those who believe that we should get rid of the concept (because it is inherently confusing, or essentially contested) and those who grant many of the criticisms of the first group, but add that we nevertheless cannot do without the concept, since much of our thinking about politics in general, and the state in particular, seems to be structured by this notion. I hope to demonstrate that much of the confusion (...)
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  13. Siegfried Van Duffel (2004). How To Study Human Rights and Culture (...Without Becoming a Relativist). Philosophy in the Contemporary World 11 (2):1-6.
    Arguing for the existence of a non-trivial link between culture and human rights does not commit the author to relativism or a simplistic notion of culture.
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  14. Siegfried van Duffel (2004). Libertarian Natural Rights. Critical Review 16 (4):353-375.
    Non-consequentialist libertarianism usually revolves around the claim that there are only “negative,” not “positive,” rights. Libertarian nega- tive-rights theories are so patently problematic, though, that it seems that there is a more fundamental notion at work. Some libertarians think this basic idea is freedom or liberty; others, that it is self-ownership. Neither approach is satis- factory.
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  15. Siegfried Van Duffel (2004). Natural Rights and Individual Sovereignty. Journal of Political Philosophy 12 (2):147–162.
    TO assert that one should come to terms with the past if one wants to understand the present would be to underline the obvious. And yet, even though we know much more of the history of natural rights theories now, especially of the origin of these theories before the seventeenth century, than we did, say, twenty years ago, this increase in knowledge seems to have had little impact on contemporary philosophical discussions about the nature of rights. Sometimes it seems that (...)
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