Are there human rights?

Journal of Value Inquiry 12 (3):215-224 (1978)
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In conclusion, I have tried to show that if there are any rights at all, legal, moral and political, there are at least the sorts of human rights cited in the Universal Declaration, rights which extend beyond the slender base provided by Hart's right to be free and which include the right to an adequate human life for everyone, rights shared by all, rights that, as rights, imply correlative duties. Even though the duties thus implied are admittedly imperfect, as rights, they confer upon right-holders, the authority to obligate others.I have argued for the most part against regarding any rights, even some human, rights (interchangable here with manifesto rights, welfare rights, rights of recipience, social and economic rights, “programme rights,” Fawcett calls them, positive in rem rights) as claims to rights or proposals for adoption as rights. I have argued that to have a right of any kind, including especially a human right, one shared by and held equally by all human beings,while not “unconditional” or “unalterable,” is “fundamentally important, ” - to return once again to Feinberg's definition at the opening of this paper. A human right is fundamentally important, however, only if it, too, implies an obligation on the part of other people, one in which other people are obligated to use their power and resources “to make things happen.” To havea right is to be in a position to impose corresponding obligations on others. As Kant pointed out, a right of any kind gives a right holder “a title to compel.” From Kant's Philosophy of Law, in C. Morris, The Great Legal Philosophers, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1959, pp.242–243. Kant points out that every right is conjoined with “an implied Title or warrant to bring compulsion to bear on anyone who may violate it in fact” p. 242. And, “with every right ... there is conjoined a Right to compel.”



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Human Rights t Real and Supposed.Maurice Cranston - 2002 - In Carl Wellman (ed.), Rights and Duties. Routledge. pp. 5--1.

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