Taking the Right Seriously: Hohfeldian Semiotics and Rights Discourse
Humboldt University of Berlin - Faculty of Law
June 23, 2009
The Crit, Vol. 3, pp. 84-107, 2010
A key characteristic of contemporary legal thought is "rights discourse". I argue that most rights' discourses fail to persuade due to unscientific conceptual apparatus and mythological counterfactual views of reality. The term "right" like the term "law" is polysemic and ambiguous; due to overlap between the terms "right" and "law" most rights discourse is doomed to incoherent failure. Though most rights discourse is doomed to futility and irrelevance that isn't because of some fatal flaw in the idea of the rule of law or of logic being somehow inevitably indeterminate. A dialectics of rights is possible. Legal science can and should extirpate ambiguity, polysemicity, and confusion from rights discourse so as to compel dialectical resolution of the conflict over what is right and what rights are.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: Dworkin, Rawls, Hohfeld, Semiotics, Rights, Rights Discourse, Discursive Practice, Theory, Positivism, Natural Law
JEL Classification: K19, K33Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: June 24, 2009 ; Last revised: March 30, 2010
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