29 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2008 Last revised: 16 Oct 2008
Date Written: October 10, 2008
The paper engages the conceptual question of the nature of rights. First, moral methodology for developing criteria to judge the adequacy of theories for the concept of rights is discussed. Standard methodologies for conceptual theory, such as analysis of language practices, appealing to intuitions to test and correct hypotheses, and mixtures of these with appeals to substantive moral values, are shown to fail in important ways to give us reasons to adopt one or another view of the concept. An alternative methodology is proposed which appeals to the distinct role of concepts in our value scheme (the added value of being able to employ such concepts in our moral judgments). This is then used to develop criteria for a successful theory of rights. Two existing theories are shown, as a matter of illustration, to fail to satisfy the criteria, and finally an alternative theory of rights which does satisfy these criteria is proposed and defended.
Keywords: Theories of rights, moral concepts, political concepts, philosophy of rights, rights, jurisprudence, legal theory, conceptual, interest theory, will theory, moral methodology
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