The recognition of rights in everyday life

Journal of Social Philosophy 18 (3):32-42 (1987)
Abstract
Gewirth has argued that rights are justified by their role in the “generic features” of action. Simply by virtue of being a purposive agent capable of voluntary action, one must accept the logic that all persons with such characteristics have certain moral rights. But the language of rights theories does not deal with the process by which rights are acknowledged. How do we go about recognizing those characteristics of human life that underlie the logic Gewirth claims is necessary? By what process do I recognize, for example, your “right” to be told the truth? Acknowledging someone else's right involves two elements: a recognition of the content of the right and a recognition of the binding power of the right which is experienced by the agent as a sense of obligation. Analyzing the process by which these two factors are recognized and examining the foundation for that process will clarify some of the assumptions utilized in rights theories
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9833.1987.tb00142.x
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