The Theories of Rights Debate

Jurisprudence 9 (3):566-588 (2018)


This is the first comprehensive explanation and survey of the Interest-Will theories of rights debate. It elucidates the traditional understanding of it as a dispute over how best to explain A RIGHT and clarifies the theories’ competing criteria for that concept. The rest of the article then shows why recent developments are either problematic or simply fail to actually advance the debate. First, it is erroneous, as some theorists have done, to frame the entire debate in terms of competing explanations of the direction of ‘directed’ duties. This is because the theories’ respective answers to that issue are themselves dependent upon their respective conceptions of A RIGHT – ones that do not even necessitate the identification of different directions for such duties. Second, all of the new would-be alternative or hybrid theories are shown to merely be versions of the Interest theory. Third, recent efforts to cabin off the debate to ‘normative’ theorisation (i.e., to morally or politically evaluative accounts) are misguided.

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David Frydrych
Monash University

References found in this work

The Nature of Rights.Leif Wenar - 2005 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 33 (3):223-252.
The Nature of Claim-Rights.Leif Wenar - 2013 - Ethics 123 (2):202-229.
Refining the Interest Theory of Rights.M. H. Kramer - 2010 - American Journal of Jurisprudence 55 (1):31-39.
Legal and Moral Obligation.Matthew H. Kramer - 2005 - In Martin P. Golding & William A. Edmundson (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Law and Legal Theory. Blackwell. pp. 179--190.
Rights: Concept and Justification.Adina Preda - 2015 - Ratio Juris 28 (3):408-415.

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Citations of this work

Rights.Leif Wenar - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
What Is the Will Theory of Rights?David Frydrych - 2019 - Ratio Juris 32 (4):455-472.
Rights and Demands.Visa A. J. Kurki - 2019 - Analysis 79 (3):530-538.

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